A week after Election Day, county exec races in Frederick, Anne Arundel Co. still up in the air

A week after Election Day, the outcome of two closely-watched county executive races in Maryland remain up in the air.

In both Frederick County and Anne Arundel County, Republican candidates have the lead over their Democratic opponents — but the margins are shrinking as thousands of mail-in ballots are tallied.

The deadline to certify election results is Friday, Nov. 18, meaning it could be a few more days before the winners are known.

Close race in Frederick Co.

No matter who comes out on top in Frederick County, it will be a squeaker.

As it stands now, Republican Michael Hough, a two-term state senator, maintains a lead of about 2,000 votes over Democrat Jessica Fitzwater, a former county council member. Hough has 50,129 votes, according to unofficial results on the Maryland State Board of Elections website, and Fitzwater has 48,066.

On Election Day, Hough had a more significant lead over Fitzwater — nearly 8,800 votes — but it has steadily dwindled as mail-in ballots have been counted in the days since.

Both candidates acknowledge the final outcome will be a close finish.

Last week, Fitzwater told supporters the race was close enough to go either way, but in a Facebook update Sunday night, she wrote, “I am excited to report we are closing the gap!”

Fitzwater has a decisive advantage in mail-in ballots. Of the roughly 19,300 mail-in ballots counted so far, Fitzwater has won about 73% of them. There are at least 5,400 more mail-in ballots left to count in the race, and if Fitzwater maintains that advantage, she would end up with a slight lead over Hough.

“I am grateful to the Board of Elections for taking the time to get this right,” Fitzwater said in the post. “Too often, elections officials are maligned by political extremists. Having watched our elections officials work, I can tell you they are processing ballots diligently, carefully, and fairly.”

In a post on Facebook Monday, Hough said this is the first midterm election with widespread mail-in voting, and significantly more mail-in ballots have been arriving at the Board of Elections in the days after the election than his campaign anticipated. Properly postmarked mail-in ballots have until Nov. 18 to arrive at local boards of elections to be counted.

“We expect that when the remaining … ballots are counted, this race will be very close,” Hough wrote in the Facebook post Monday.

The remainder of the mail-in ballots aren’t expected to be counted until Thursday.

About 2,600 provisional ballots are set to be counted on Wednesday. The advantage there could lie with Hough, since these are votes that were cast on Election Day. Overall, Hough leads Fitzwater in votes cast on Election Day by nearly 20 points, he pointed out.

Hough, who campaigned against overdevelopment and tax increases, is seeking to be the county’s first Republican executive. Fitzwater, an ally of term-limited Democratic executive Jan Gardner, prioritized affordable housing and investments in education.

The county has only had a charter system of government — one with a county executive and county council — since 2014.

42,000 mail-in ballots left to count in Anne Arundel Co.

In Anne Arundel County, Republican challenger Jessica Haire maintains a 3,000-vote lead over incumbent Democratic County Executive Steuart Pittman. But there are several thousand mail-in ballots left to tally in the county.

Here’s where things stand as of Tuesday.

Haire, a two-term county council member, has 85,293 votes to Pittman’s 82,235, according to the unofficial results posted on the state board website.

However, when it comes to mail-in ballots, Pittman, who is seeking a second term, has a clear advantage. Of the 17,000 mail-in ballots counted so far, Pittman has won nearly 73% of them. And more than 42,000 mail-in ballots are still to be tallied before results are certified.

If Pittman maintains his edge in the remaining mail-in ballots, he would open up a significant lead of more than 16,000 votes over Haire.

Unlike Frederick County — and 10 other Maryland counties — Anne Arundel did not count any mail-in ballots ahead of Election Day.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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