Montgomery County Board of Elections Secretary David Naimon, left, signs the certification of the 2022 gubernatorial election results Wednesday, as Alysoun McLaughlin, acting elections director (center) and other elections officials look on. Credit: Ginny Bixby

While the 2022 gubernatorial election is officially over, the Montgomery County Board of Elections is already talking about how to make improvements for the 2024 elections after the county received an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, the most in the state.

Almost 119,000 mail-in ballots were returned by Montgomery County voters, elections officials confirmed Wednesday. This number dwarves the number of mail-in ballots received by neighboring jurisdictions. Baltimore County received about 79,000 mail-in ballots, Prince George’s County received about 69,000, and Anne Arundel County received about 60,000, according to state election data.

It is also about three times the number of mail-in ballots Montgomery County received in the 2018 gubernatorial election, officials said.

More than 343,000 total ballots were cast in Montgomery County, including mail-in ballots, early voting, and Election Day voting.

The Board of Elections and election staff members met Wednesday at their headquarters in Gaithersburg to certify the results of the election and review the election audit report. Election staff finished canvassing mail-in and professional ballots Sunday.

“I’d like to point out that this actually is not a particularly late certification this year. We certified on Nov. 30 in 2020, on Nov. 26 in 2018 and on Dec. 7 in 2016,” Board of Elections David Naimon said during his remarks Wednesday.


Election officials said the process was relatively streamlined, but they are always looking to make improvements, especially as mail-in voting increases in popularity.

“This is not that different than usual in the sense that late November and early December is when we have certified [results],” Naimon said. “The difference this time was the volume of mail-in ballots and how those ballots determined election outcomes.”

As so many people voted by mail, it took longer to see which candidate was leading in some closer elections, as opposed to elections where fewer people voted by mail and the election was determined generally by the Election Day polling numbers, Naimon said.


“Some people have rightly pointed out that we should, or we could, look for a bigger facility to host more canvass teams to achieve quicker processing of the volume of ballots returned to us, but we need more people in this building to prepare those ballots,” said Boris Brajkovic, voter services manager. “We can’t just increase volume on one end if you don’t follow through on the back end.”

A third-party, Clear Ballot, conducts an audit of the election results to make sure there are no discrepancies. Acting Elections Director Alysoun McLaughlin said on Wednesday there were some minimal discrepancies that the audit team looked into after they were discovered by election staff.

At the Poolesville Elementary School precinct, there were more voters checked in than ballots were cast. McLaughlin said the audit team concluded that a few voters ended up choosing not to cast a ballot and left after checking in.


At two precincts, there were instances where a ballot was scanned in more than once after a paper jam machine error, McLaughlin said.

At the St. Elizabeth Catholic School precinct in Rockville, five voters’ provisional ballots were scanned, which is incorrect procedure according to McLaughlin.

“That is a training item that is one where we follow up with the on the management of that site, we look at the voter flow and we see what we can do in order to prevent that from happening again,” McLaughlin said.


At another precinct, one ballot was scanned four times after a paper jam issue with a scanner. McLaughlin said. This error was called in by an election judge. At another precinct, there were four more ballots scanned than there were voters, which the audit team concluded may have been the result of a paper jam scanning error. McLaughlin said election staff will revisit training procedures for election judges to prevent a similar error in the future.

McLaughlin said a taxpayer-funder recount is only conducted in the event that the margin of votes with discrepancies could change the outcome of the election, or if a candidate requests it. Since neither of these are the case, there will not be a recount and the results were allowed to be certified.

There were also two additional ballots discovered in the Board of Elections warehouse Monday, which were able to be verified and canvassed Tuesday. McLaughlin said the ballots had been accidentally left in collection bags and were discovered when election workers were disassembling the collection bags and kits. McLaughlin said she and staff believe it was just human error.


Meanwhile, election officials will continue to move forward to get ready for the 2024 election.

Some board members presented issues they want the staff to look into so they can start addressing them ahead of planning for the 2024 presidential election, which is expected to have higher voter turnout than the gubernatorial election. These questions include:

– How can election officials make the mail-in canvass process move faster? Can they find a place and the necessary staff and canvasser resources in 2024 to have even more bipartisan teams to help canvass?

– How can election officials find and recruit more election judges?


–  How can election officials make sure that voters are educated on how to properly fill out web delivered ballots and understand how they work?

– How can election officials address the number of people who were concerned their mail-in ballot wasn’t received and ended up filing provisional ballots “just in case”?

– How can election officials make sure voters don’t show up to the wrong polling place?


– How can election officials ensure voters fill out their ballots properly?

Gilberto Zelaya, Board of Elections public information officer, said it’s never too early for both election officials and voters to start thinking about the next election, and for voters to make a plan to vote and understand how to properly vote to expedite and streamline the process.

“We always need poll workers, so it’s never too late to recruit for 2024. We definitely will need more civic minded voters to assist. But the voter is the key equation,” Zelaya said. ”They have to do their due diligence to help us and let us help you as well.”