This story was updated at 3:10 p.m. on Aug. 13, 2022, to include the fact that the vote was certified.
Incumbent Marc Elrich’s lead over Potomac businessman David Blair was cut to 35 votes in the Democratic primary for Montgomery County executive after Saturday’s review of 102 provisional ballots that were found this week.
As of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Elrich had 55,497 votes (39.20%) and Blair had 55,462 votes (39.17%), according to the State Board of Elections.
The county Board of Elections certified the results of the July 19 primary election at its meeting Saturday afternoon.
Acting Election Director Alysoun McLaughlin told Bethesda Beat on Saturday that these totals account for 101 of the provisional ballots. One ballot was rejected, she said.
The lead has flip-flopped multiple times between Elrich and Blair in the weeks since Election Day as mail-in votes and provisional ballots were counted. The last totals reported by the county Board of Elections prior to Saturday showed Elrich ahead by 42 votes (55,473 to 55,431).
Elrich declared victory in the race Aug. 6 after it seemed all outstanding ballots had been accounted for. Blair said he would request a full recount, which is free to second-place candidates in Maryland if the margin between the first and second-place finishers is .25% or less.
The certification of the election results was originally scheduled for Friday. But McLaughlin announced late Thursday that officials performing a precertification audit had found 102 “unopened, sealed” ballot envelopes that had never been removed from their folders.
“I apologize for this error and for not identifying it until today, or the remaining ballots could have been counted earlier,” she said in a statement Thursday. “I want to emphasize that Maryland’s comprehensive precertification audit was designed to identify issues like this before an election is certified to ensure the accuracy of the results. It worked as intended.”
The close race between Elrich and Blair mirrors the trends seen in the 2018 primary, when Elrich ultimately triumphed over Blair by 77 votes, before going on to be elected in the November general election.
Elrich, who has served one term as county executive and previously served for 12 years on the County Council, used the county’s public financing system in both the 2018 and 2022 elections. Blair, a businessman from Potomac, spent millions of dollars of his own money in both primary campaigns.
The winner of the Blair-Elrich race will face Republican Reardon Sullivan, the former chair of the county’s Republican Central Committee, in the November general election. Democrats outnumber Republicans by about a 4 to 1 ratio in voter registration in Montgomery County, meaning that the winner of the Democratic race would be heavily favored to defeat Sullivan.
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