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Already recounted Montgomery Co. executive votes had to be counted 3rd time after mistake

Incumbent Marc Elrich (left) leads challenger David Blair (right) by only dozens of votes in the Democratic primary race for Montgomery County executive. (7News/David Blair for Montgomery)
Incumbent Marc Elrich (left) leads challenger David Blair (right) by only dozens of votes in the Democratic primary race for Montgomery County executive. (7News/David Blair for Montgomery)
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While many voters are eager to find out who the Democratic nominee for Montgomery County executive will be, an exhaustive process, plus a possible mistake made on the first day of the recount, could prolong what county elections officials hoped would be a three-day operation.

Elections workers gathered Saturday in the Germantown Community Center gymnasium for the second day of the recount. This process is due to the fact incumbent Marc Elrich has only a 35-vote lead on challenger David Blair. Originally, the margin was 42 votes, but Blair requested a recount after the discovery of more than 100 uncounted provisional ballots cut the lead to what it is now.

The plan was for elections workers to recount early voting ballots on Friday, Election Day votes on Saturday, and provisional and mail-in ballots Sunday. However, Montgomery County Board of Elections attorney Kevin Karpinski announced during opening remarks Saturday that they would have to recount some of the early votes they already recounted Friday.

RELATED: David Blair formally requests recount in tight race for Montgomery County Executive

"We knew there were some issues with regards to totals for early voting. Staff do not want to go ahead and provide information that was not correct. We will go ahead and recount those early voting sites this morning," Karpinski said to the elections workers Saturday morning. "You need to make sure you look at that entire race. Like I said yesterday, this is a reminder for the purposes of this exercise, we don't care about any other race. We care about only the county executive race. We care very deeply about the county executive race. If there is any abnormality, anything where the voter has not filled in the oval correctly and there's an issue with voter intent, or there's a stray mark that's gone down the ballot, that's a situation where the scanner may have picked it up as an overvote."

The possible mistake on Friday, according to Karpinski, was due to elections workers placing recounted early voting ballots in the wrong pile on their desk. Each table has four separated piles: for Elrich, for Blair, a different candidate, or an overvote.

However, Karpinski told 7News he did not believe this mistake was repeated Saturday.

“That’s why we want people to go slowly, make sure they get it right the first time," Karpinski said. “What we do is we make sure all the ballots from Election Day match all the ballots that are manually being counted by tables. If there’s a discrepancy, then we go back and recount and reconcile where that mistake was made.”

Karpinski did not blame elections workers for the possible mistakes made Friday.

At the end of Saturday's recount, 7News asked the lawyer who or what was to blame, and if this would have an effect on the timeline of finishing the recount, which they were hoping would be done by Sunday night.

“With any situation where you’re going to have people manually count ballots, there can be a situation where there’s a miscalculation,” Karpinski said. “I think everything has been moving very smoothly, the teams seem to be working very efficiently, so we’re hopeful we’ll finish tomorrow.”

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The county will continue the recount Sunday morning at 9:30, and will finish at 7 p.m.

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