Canvassers count ballots at the Montgomery College campus in Germantown. Credit: Steve Bohnel

The certification of the July 19 primary election will occur following the canvassing of 102 remaining provisional ballots Saturday, according to county elections officials.

Kevin Karpinski, attorney for the county Board of Elections, told board members during a meeting Friday that election workers will canvass the provisional ballots, which remain unopened and sealed, at 11 a.m.  at the board’s Gaithersburg office. The ballots will then be scanned and tabulated and sent to the state, with certification of the election results occurring by 3 p.m.

The additional counting session comes nearly a week after the board announced it had finished tallying the results of the primary election. The board had been expected to certify those results Friday.

Alysoun McLaughlin, the county’s acting election director, announced Thursday night that an additional 102 provisional ballots had been discovered during a precertification audit.

McLaughlin explained to the board the precertification process that resulted in the discovery of the remaining provisional ballots — which came from nine precincts throughout the county. 

McLaughlin said that because of staffing changes and vacancies, multiple new employees were responsible for the process of handling provisional ballots from polling places countywide and delivering them to the elections board office. 

McLaughlin said that typically, provisional ballots are examined and then placed into large brown folders. They are then organized and placed into smaller manila folders in order to prepare for canvassing. The 102 ballots from nine precincts did not properly go through that process and were misplaced, she said.

She said the misplacement was a “shared responsibility.” 

One person will handle the overall process of receiving and  moving provisional ballots between the two kinds of folders in the future, to ensure that an error doesn’t occur again, McLaughlin said.

“I want to say it again and again because I think it was important for anybody who’s listening to this conversation to hear — is that we do have this audit process, designed the way that it is, for a reason, and that it did in fact work,” McLaughlin said.

Board to consider how to move up mail-in ballot canvass for November general election

Board members unanimously agreed with Karpinski’s suggestion that they explore whether there is a way to move the canvassing of mail-in ballots for the general election to as early as Oct. 1. 

The county would look into working with the state’s four other large jurisdictions — the city of Baltimore and Prince George’s, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties — to move the start of canvassing forward to that date, Karpinski said. The move would require a filing for “emergency relief” in Montgomery County Circuit Court, he added.

“The state [of Maryland] will be filing [the counties’ request]  but we will provide necessary assistance with submitting affidavits and other supporting documentation,” Karpinski said.

The board also unanimously agreed to move 11 polling places used during the primary to new locations. Many of the new locations were actually schools or other facilities that had historically been used in their respective precincts, but summer construction and renovation projects meant they needed to be moved for the primary election, board staff said.