Montgomery County executive hopeful David T. Blair (D) is all but certain to request a formal recount of the June 26 primary, a contest he lost to Councilman Marc B. Elrich (D) by 79 votes.The county Board of Elections certified Elrich’s win on Monday, nearly three weeks after voters went to the polls.In a letter to supporters Tuesday afternoon, Blair said, “We share the desire to have a nominee chosen in a timely manner so the party can come together and prepare for the General Election. On the other hand, we fully believe that participation in the electoral process is the hallmark of our democracy and it is imperative that all ballots are accurately counted.”David T. Blair“Accordingly, we anticipate that in the next few days we will request the Board of Elections to perform a full recount,” Blair continued.Blair’s attorney Brian G. Svoboda of the Washington, D.C., firm Perkins Coie attended the election board’s Monday meeting and has been in regular contact with BOE attorney Kevin B. Karpinski, as have representatives from the Elrich camp.Blair’s letter appeared to hint at the strategy his campaign will use as it petitions a circuit court judge for a recount.“We have concerns with the tabulated results after hearing from voters who experienced difficulties during Early Vote and on Election Day coupled with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration’s voter registration technical errors, which resulted in thousands more provisional ballots than in previous elections,” the letter reads.On the weekend before the primary, the state Board of Elections announced that it didn’t receive party affiliation changes or change-of-address updates made by roughly 87,000 voters who used the MVA website or an agency kiosk to process their requests. The affected voters were those who did not purchase an MVA “product,” such as a driver’s license, ID card or vehicle registration.At a legislative hearing earlier this month, agency officials blamed a programming glitch. They offered a revised figure of impacted voters — 83,493 — of which 3,538 were forced to cast provisional ballots on Election Day.While the Elrich-Blair margin was very close — “the closest County Executive race in history” is how the losing candidate’s letter described it — it wasn’t quite close enough for him to qualify for a county-funded recount.Under the law, he would have had to come within .1 percent of the votes the two candidates received combined, or 75 votes. Blair fell 79 votes shy, so will have to pick up the tab himself if he decides to go forward. Marjorie M. Roher, public information officer for the Board of Elections, has told the Blair camp it will cost an estimated $189,467 to do a manual recount of all ballots cast, a process expected to take about a week. A judge will determine how much bond must be put up ahead of time, Roher said, because the true costs can’t be known until the process is complete.“It just depends on how many ballots have to be forwarded to the board and how many teams we can get in here,” she said. “Obviously, our goal is to get it done as quickly as possible.”If Blair emerges victorious, he will not have to pay for the recount, officials said. The Montgomery race is one of two executive battles to go into extra innings.Former state Del. John A. “Johnny O” Olszewski Jr. (D) won the Baltimore County executive Democratic primary after a three-day recount of more than 87,000 ballots. His victory over his nearest rival, state Sen. James Brochin (D) — 17 votes. [email protected]
Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, Va. He’s a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.