The Maryland State Board of Elections officially certified primary election results Monday, Aug. 15 from statewide races that concluded last month.
The board quickly voted unanimously to confirm results but recounts are set for a few close races such as legislative Districts 23 and 24 in Prince George’s County for candidates who sought the Democratic nomination.
Nikki Charleston, deputy administrator for the state Board of Elections, said they’re scheduled to begin next week.
“We’ve already received those petitions,” she said.
It’s unclear how long a recount will take but candidates have until Thursday, Aug. 18 to file a petition making a formal request.
Meanwhile, the board also voted to file an emergency petition in circuit court to allow local election boards to count mail-in ballots as soon as they arrive during the Nov. 8 general election. Current law permits those ballots to be counted two days after Election Day, specifically Thursday.
A statement from the board mentions Maryland remains the only state in the nation to continue that mail-in ballot process.
“Given Maryland’s experience in the primary election and the expected and continued expansion of mail-in balloting, the inability of the local boards of elections to canvass mail-in ballots before Election Day could have significant implications,” according to the board’s letter. “It could leave local, statewide and even federal contests without certified results until late December 2022 or early January 2023.”
As for the recounts, District 23, which includes the Bowie area and portions of Upper Marlboro, Kym Taylor of Bowie came in third place and held that final spot by 19 votes, or .03%. A recount will determine if Taylor keeps the lead or if Jocelyn Collins of Upper Marlboro jumps ahead from fourth place.
Another close contest in the county in District 24 shows Tiffany Alston took third place by 101 votes, or .19% over LaTasha Ward.
Christopher Stevenson sits in fifth place behind Alston by only 131 votes, or .25%.
Alston, elected as a delegate in 2010, was indicted for improperly using campaign and state funds and later ousted from her seat in 2012.
This year marked Alston’s third attempt seeking public office. But she garnered enough votes this year for third place behind the top two vote-getters, Dels. Jazz Lewis and Andrea Fletcher Harrison who represent municipalities and communities including Glenarden, Largo and Seat Pleasant.
The Maryland General Assembly approved legislation this year for candidates who petition for a recount must be down by at least .25%. The previous figure stood at 1%.
In addition, the campaigns wouldn’t have to pay for a recount.
Election officials in the state’s 23 counties and Baltimore City already certified results but a recount in the state’s highest populated jurisdiction will start Thursday.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich won the Democratic nomination by 35 votes, or .03%, over businessman David Blair.
Blair lost to Elrich by just 77 votes in 2018.
While county election officials counted votes last week, Blair issued a statement Aug. 7 that he plans to petition for a recount.
“Given the extremely close margin, we will be requesting a full recount and are hopeful that the outcome will be in our favor,” he said.
If Elrich maintains the lead after a recount, he will face Republican Reardon Sullivan in the general election.
Voters and election officials endured some changes for this year’s election that included the change of the primary election date from June 28 to July 19.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some faith leaders chose not to allow their sanctuaries to be used as polling locations.
In addition, new election judges and volunteers unfamiliar with the process forced experienced individuals to conduct more work.
In the end, state officials said the voting audit systems tabulated the same number of ballots cast. Data shows 65% of people who participated in this year’s election voted in person with nearly 78,000 on the final two days.
“I would like to recognize the election officials across the state of Maryland for successfully administering this election,” said state Election Administrator Linda Lamone. “It certainly had its challenges. Things kept getting changed. Everyone had a short period of time. We returned to a normal election.”
Sen. Cheryl Kagan (D-Montgomery County) criticized Lamone and a few election staff for not posting the 302-page meeting materials before the day of the session.
Board of Elections Chair William G. Voelp said it may have been an oversight “with all the amazing amount of things happening during the election. It is something we will keep our eye on.”
“Mr. Chairman, I also appreciate your accessibility, your thoughtfulness and your collaboration,” Kagan said. “If this was the first time, I might be willing to believe that it’s an oversight. It’s not the first time. I’m hoping for something better going forward.”