Elrich’s Lead Over Blair Trimmed To Less Than 150 Votes In Democratic County Executive Primary

Elrich’s Lead Over Blair Trimmed To Less Than 150 Votes In Democratic County Executive Primary

Election officials finished the first count of absentee ballots Friday, two more ballot counts remain

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Absentee ballots inside a cage at the Montgomery County Board of Elections

Andrew Metcalf

After starting Friday with a 269-vote lead, County Council member Marc Elrich saw his lead trimmed for the second straight day to 149 votes over businessman David Blair in the Democratic primary for Montgomery County executive.

The race tightened after bipartisan teams continued their review of the first batch of absentee ballots Friday at the county’s Board of Elections offices in Gaithersburg.

After the first batch was counted, Elrich had 36,117 votes to Blair’s 35,968, according to the latest results posted to the board’s website.

For an unknown reason, Elrich’s combined early vote and election day total jumped from 34,729 votes early Wednesday to 34,900 votes in the latest results. Blair’s early voting and election day total jumped from 34,277 to 34,408 votes. That meant Elrich finished early voting and election day with a 492-vote lead over Blair, not the 452-vote difference initially reported.

Marjorie Roher, spokeswoman for the county board, said Friday evening she did not immediately know specifically why the election day and early vote totals for the candidates changed. The totals for other candidates also changed slightly.

“It is routine for numbers to change from election night to two days later,” Roher said. She noted that memory sticks with results on them from precincts are re-uploaded and the results are double checked after election night. “The numbers will change as we go through this process to make sure everything is counted accurately.”

Election officials counted 3,150 absentee ballots in the Democratic county executive primary Thursday and another 1,878 ballots Friday. Blair netted a total of 1,560 votes to Elrich’s 1,217—a difference of 343 votes in favor of Blair—after the count was completed Friday.

The razor-tight margin in the race means next week’s two remaining canvasses will decide the election. On July 5, the board is scheduled to count 3,614 provisional ballots that were cast by people who had issues with their voter registration information at the polls.

Nearly 90,000 Maryland voters were affected by a computer glitch at the Motor Vehicle Administration that failed to update address or political party changes they made through the agency, according to the latest figures provided by the state Board of Elections Thursday.

On July 6, a second canvass of absentee ballots will take place to count the ballots received just before and after the primary election. All ballots that were postmarked by primary election day will be counted, election officials said.

Roher said earlier Friday that the board has already received about 1,200 absentee ballots that will be counted in the second absentee canvass and that number could swell to more than 8,000 if a high percentage of the absentee ballots that were sent out are returned.

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