Kevin Karpinski (left), attorney for the county's Board of Elections, shows a ballot to Aaron Kraut (center) and Susan Kenedy (right), campaign workers for David Blair, on Saturday, Aug. 20. Credit: Steve Bohnel

This story was updated at 12:50 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, to note that some Election Day ballots were being double-checked. It was updated at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 22, 2022 to include updated numbers and more information.

After the recounting of more than 9,000 early voting ballots, challenger David Blair gained one vote in an ongoing recount of all ballots for the Democratic primary for county executive.

According to certified election results from earlier this month, Blair received 8,328 votes during a week of early voting for the July 19 primary, while County Executive Marc Elrich had 7,453 votes. Blair requested a manual recount of all paper ballots earlier this month after Elrich, who is seeking a second term, won the primary by 35 votes. 

Janet Ross, acting deputy director for the county’s Board of Elections, told Bethesda Beat on Sunday morning that Blair gained one vote after the tally of early voting ballots was completed and audited. Elrich did not lose any votes, she added.

That brought Blair’s total to 8,329 votes while Elrich remained at 7,453 votes. Ross said that the vote from early voting came from changing a ballot categorized as an overvote — one where a voter chooses multiple candidates in a single race, which means the ballot can’t be counted — to a vote for Blair.

On Sunday night, the Board of Elections said that after a majority of Election Day ballots were recounted and audited, Blair and Elrich both gained one vote from those ballots. For now, that brought their Election Day totals to 21,027 votes and 20,576 votes, respectively.

Elections workers still needed to audit ballots from Election District 13, the last of the 13 election districts, the board announced.

On Friday, initial results from the recount, seen on a monitor in a corner of the gymnasium at Germantown Community Center, showed that Blair gained four votes for the early voting period, and that Elrich lost four — bringing their totals to 8,332 votes and 7,449 votes, respectively. But election workers told Bethesda Beat on Saturday that mistakes were likely made during the categorization of some early voting ballots.

Regarding the updated count, Ross said that overvotes can change categories upon review because election scanners count a ballot as an overvote if multiple bubbles for candidates in a given race are filled in. If a voter makes an “X” through a candidate’s name in order to show he or she made a mistake, the scanner doesn’t pick that up. The elections board then needs to review the ballot to see who the voter intended to vote for, Ross said.

On Sunday, Board of Elections officials were still reviewing more than 53,000 ballots from Election Day and officials hoped to post the recount results, which would show if there was any change in the gap between Blair and Elrich at some point during the day, Ross said. Workers counting the ballots had completed reviewing Election Day ballots on Saturday.

Work began at around 9:45 a.m. on Sunday as Kevin Karpinski, the board’s attorney, briefed dozens of election workers that the counting of mail-in ballots would continue. Workers had started on mail-in ballots on Saturday. 

On Saturday, workers sat at tables counting and reviewing ballots of all different types — those in yellow folders were from early voting sites, red folders held ballots from Election Day, blue folders were mail-in ballots, and orange folders held provisional ballots. On Sunday, the folders on tables were all blue, as the count and review of mail-in ballots continued. 

Early on Sunday afternoon, ballots from a few Election Day folders were being reviewed again, as elections workers doubled-checked what was completed on Saturday.

Sunday’s recount continues through 7 p.m., if necessary.