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After a full weekend of ballot counting, the Democratic primary race for Montgomery County executive remains relatively unchanged.
With re-counted and audited results from early voting and 12 of 13 election districts on Election Day, incumbent Marc Elrich (D) has gained one additional vote and challenger David Blair has gained two, according to a Sunday night announcement from the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
After initial certification of the July 19 primary results, Elrich led the race by 35 votes.
Dozens of elections board workers from around the state reported to the Germantown Community Center gymnasium from Friday through Sunday to aid in the recount effort, which was requested by Blair’s campaign.
Around 5 p.m. on Sunday, the Montgomery County Board of Elections’ attorney, Kevin Karpinski, announced to the packed gymnasium that workers from out of town were relieved of their recount duties.
“Thank you very much for your hard work, we deeply appreciate it,” he told the crowd, which applauded the end of the statewide effort.
But there is still more work to do.
Montgomery County elections officials will report at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the community center to continue the process of reconciling and auditing the recount results, before releasing the final numbers to the public.
About 48% of all ballots cast in the race were mail-in or provisionals; no recount results from any of those ballots have been released so far.
More than 150 ballots were challenged by one campaign or another during the three-day recount effort in Germantown. In most cases, the elections board was unified in determining whether a ballot should count or not.
At one point on Sunday, Board Secretary David Naimon expressed frustration that so many challenges were lodged for ballots where voters’ intentions seemed clear. “In my opinion, every ballot we’ve seen tonight was clearly a vote,” Naimon said, after the board reviewed a long string of challenges between the 6 and 7 o’clock hours.
He said while he respected that campaigns would zealously advocate for their candidate, he believes the board’s job is to zealously advocate on behalf of voters. “While I understand that you all have a job to do, so do we,” Naimon said.
In 2018, a recount in the county executive primary race between Blair and Elrich involved a sample of about 15,000 ballots; it took approximately one day and Elrich’s lead shrank by two votes, with him ultimately winning the contest by 77 votes.
The Blair-requested recount this year required going back over more than 140,000 ballots.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Reardon Sullivan, the former chair of the county GOP, in November.