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It’s official: David Blair asks for partial recount in Montgomery Co. exec race

A Maryland voter is seen in this 2016 AP file photo. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON — David Blair is asking for a partial recount in the tight race for Montgomery County executive.

The Blair campaign is asking for a recount of all provisional and absentee ballots as well as a recount in two precincts, Jim Shalleck, president of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, confirmed to WTOP.

The two precincts are District 10-13 at the Potomac Community Recreation Center in Potomac and District 02-06 at Hallie Wells Middle School in Clarksburg. Blair’s team is only asking for a recount of early voting ballots at the Potomac location.

The request comes days after the Montgomery County Board of Elections certified Blair’s opponent — longtime county council member Marc Elrich — as the winner in the Democratic primary race for county executive by just 79 votes.

That falls a few votes shy of the margin needed to ask for a recount without having to pay for it. Under state law, the difference would have to come to 0.1 percent of the votes cast in order for Blair to qualify for a free recount.

Blair, a political newcomer and businessman, had publicly struggled with whether to file for a recount. He told WTOP earlier this week he was “torn” over the decision, saying he wants to do what’s best for the Democratic Party but also make sure every vote is counted.

A statement from Blair’s campaign said that the chief concern centers on 955 provisional ballots that were rejected by the Board of Elections. Blair’s campaign also notes that technical issues at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration had a “deterrent effect” — one of which could have resulted in the rejection of valid provisional ballots.

“We have analyzed the election results by precinct, reviewed the treatment of thousands of provisional ballots, and spoken with hundreds of individual voters who experienced difficulties registering to vote or casting their ballots,” Blair said in a statement, “and while it is certainly unclear whether a recount will affect the outcome, we believe the narrow margin coupled with the numerous issues impacting the election make a recount appropriate.”

It will be several days before the official recount of the county executive race begins, because the board of elections is currently gearing up for a recount in a legislative race for a Maryland House of Delegates seat in District 16. Samir Paul is asking for the recount in the race against Sarah Love. He trailed her by just eight votes in the race for the seat.

Shalleck said the official recount in that race begins Friday at 9 a.m. and is expected to last several days. The county executive recount will follow, he said. The ballots will be reviewed by hand, “so it could be quite time-consuming,” he said.

Shalleck said he can’t remember when there have been two major races with such razor-thin margins.

“I’m told that these are the closest elections that people can recall in history,” he said.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.


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