‘Razor thin election’ playing out in Dem. primary race for Montgomery Co. exec

The Maryland State Board of Elections said it fixed a glitch that took its voter system offline for a "brief period" on Tuesday, June 5, the last day to register to vote in Maryland's primaries. File. (Thinkstock)(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The race for the Democratic nod for county executive in Montgomery County remains too close to call.

“It’s a razor thin election,” said Jim Shalleck, president of the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

On Friday, the first batch of absentee ballots received by June 21 were counted at the BOE office in Gaithersburg. When the day concluded, County Councilman Marc Elrich led businessman David Blair by only 149 votes.

So far in the race, 124,000 votes have been counted; Elrich has 36,117 votes compared to Blair’s 35,968.

In the race, while there is not a total for absentee and provisional ballots cast, the BOE said 14,902 absentee and 3,614 provisional ballots were issued.

“The old phrase, every vote counts, certainly applies here,” Shalleck said.

On Thursday, provisional ballots will be examined and, if deemed valid, counted by the BOE. Of the provisional ballots received, some will come from the pool of 80,000 voters whose records were not updated by the Motor Vehicle Administration due to a computer issue announced shortly before the primary. The impacted voters had updated their addresses and party affiliation shortly before the primary.

On Friday, all absentee ballots received by 10 a.m. that were postmarked by primary day will be counted. Shalleck said the extra time is given because the county has voters sending in ballots from all across the globe.

“We’ve received absentee ballots from France, Spain, Israel, to my recollection,” he said.

The counting process, which takes place on Thursday and Friday, is open to the public. Those who would like to observe the 15 bipartisan teams as they go through the ballots can do so at the Board of Elections Office at 18753 N. Frederick Avenue.

“If you want to see what democracy looks like, come to the board of elections and watch these citizens work hard to make sure that every vote counts and that we count every vote,” Shalleck said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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