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Government & Politics

Provisional Ballot Count in Dems’ Baltimore Co. Executive Race Continues Into Friday

Baltimore County could have its Democratic nominee for executive by Friday night.

Or not.

County elections officials are still mired in their tedious duty of examining and then counting each provisional and absentee ballot cast in the June 26 primary.

On Thursday, elections officials inched a little closer toward final tallies that the Baltimore County Board of Elections would be able to certify and send to Annapolis, but by day’s end, the Democratic provisional ballots had not yet been counted.

However, the wary what-ifs, objections and concerns raised by lawyers and others representing the three major Democratic candidates seemed to be salved Thursday, clearing the way for the remaining nearly 2,200 ballots — 1,280 or so provisional ballots and more than 880 absentee ballots — to be counted Friday.

Katie A. Brown, elections director for Baltimore County, far right, explains the various reasons why officials rejected some 900 provisional ballots cast in the June 26 primary to campaign representatives, seated, from left, Claire N. Landers, for the Almond campaign; Tucker J. Cavanagh and Elisabeth A. Sachs, for the Olszewski campaign; and Timothy A. Hodge Jr. and Charles P. Scheeler, for the Brochin campaign. Photo by William F. Zorzi.

For now, John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr. holds a razor-thin 42-vote lead over state Sen. James Brochin, followed by County Councilwoman Vicki L. Almond, who trails Brochin by 983 votes.

Katie A. Brown, elections director for Baltimore County, said she would like to work into the evening Friday in order for the board to complete its work and certify the results. But unforeseen complications or challenges easily could send the final count into next week.

Elections officials’ work already has been made more difficult by a computer glitch at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, revealed on the eve of the primary, in which voter registration changes made by 87,200 residents at the MVA were not transmitted to the State Board of Elections for processing. That meant that any of those 87,200 who had made changes and wanted to vote on Election Day had to use a provisional ballot.

The canvass of provisional ballots cast in Baltimore County was supposed to have been completed Thursday, but only the Republican ballots — about 300 — ended up being tallied. Those results, however, will not be revealed until the Democratic provisional ballots are counted.

On the Democratic side, county election officials earlier had rejected about 930 ballots, but Olszewski campaign officials raised concerns Thursday over whether some of those ballots could have been put aside for insufficient reasons.

Lawyers for Brochin countered that the Olszewski campaign’s concerns were unnecessarily delaying the canvass process.

At mid-afternoon, county elections officials, led by Brown, went over a sampling of rejected provisional ballots with representatives from the Olszewski, Brochin and Almond campaigns, apparently satisfying all concerned.

On Friday morning, the canvass of the 880-some absentee ballots plus any others that arrive in the mail by 10 a.m. will begin. Brown said she hopes to complete that count by early afternoon.

That leaves the nearly 1,300 provisional ballots to be counted Friday. Ideally, Brown said, she would like to have that work completed by 3 p.m., when the Board of Elections is scheduled to convene and eventually certify the election results.

If all the work cannot be accomplished Friday, it will continue next week.

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Provisional Ballot Count in Dems’ Baltimore Co. Executive Race Continues Into Friday