Friday, August 12, 2022

Montgomery County Board of Elections finds 102 more ballots

The already drama-filled Montgomery County primary election just took another bizarre twist. Montgomery County Acting Election Director Alysoun McLaughlin issued a statement late last night on Board of Elections letterhead announcing that election staff has found 102 missing ballots. As a result, McLaughlin said, the Board will be unable to certify the election results today as scheduled. The Board will meet at 3:30 PM this afternoon to figure out how to proceed.

The ballots were found Thursday during a "precertification audit," McLaughlin wrote. “Today, we pulled our random sample of empty provisional ballot envelopes for audit and were unable to locate one of the randomly selected envelopes where it should have been," she explained. "In addition, we were unable to resolve a discrepancy between the number of provisional ballots that our staff had recommended that the Board accept, and the number of ballots scanned. Together, these two pieces of information prompted a visual search of folders where provisional ballots had been stored prior to the canvass. Those folders contained 102 unopened, sealed ballot envelopes that were never removed from their folders and presented to the canvass from the following precincts:

• Precinct 06-10 – 1 ballot

• Precinct 06-11 – 1 ballot

• Precinct 06-13 – 14 ballots

• Precinct 06-14 – 7 ballots

• Precinct 06-15 – 15 ballots

• Precinct 13-56 – 12 ballots

• Precinct 13-57 – 10 ballots

• Precinct 13-58 – 30 ballots

• Precinct 13-59 – 12 ballots

Intriguingly, McLaughlin personally apologized in the statement for not locating the missing ballots until yesterday, thereby delaying a certification of the results. The delayed certification has all kinds of implications for the photo finish of Democrats David Blair and Marc Elrich in the County Executive race. Elrich declared victory in the race last week. But if the 102 ballots found yesterday were to split Blair's way, that could flip the current results and Elrich would then have the option to ask for a recount. If Elrich retains his lead after the 102 new ballots are tallied, the recount Blair has said he will request following certification will be further delayed.

"I want to emphasize that Maryland’s comprehensive precertification audit was designed to identify issues like this before an election is certified to ensure theaccuracy of the results," McLaughlin wrote. "It worked as intended.”

“I will finish reviewing the rest of the audit to ensure that there are no further discrepancies before I ask the Board of Elections to certify the results of the election. The Board will meet at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, August 12, and we will discuss the findings of our audit and the schedule for canvass and certification.”

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