Recount Analysis

The Board of Elections has reported the recount results from the early vote as well as all but one of the election districts. David Blair has gained two votes and Marc Elrich has gained one vote. This is bad news for Blair as these were the two sections of the recount most likely to benefit him through closer examination of overvotes—ballots that contained more than one vote for county executive.

In the initial count, these ballots from the early and Election Day vote are run through the counting machine without closer examination. Overvotes are tallied but counted as invalid. But once in a while, closer examination can reveal that the intent of the voter is clear despite an overvote. The ballot may have an “x” through the vote for one candidate that indicates that the voter didn’t mean to vote for that person.

These sorts of ballots would have allowed Al Gore to win the 2000 presidential election.

But changes in how we vote since then have reduced the number of these ballots. During early and Election Day voting in Montgomery, voters must feed their ballots into a machine that gives voters a chance to correct mistakes if there are any overvotes. Some voters cast their ballots on machines (that create a paper record and ballot) that do not allow overvotes. The result is that fewer early and Election Day ballots contain these sorts of problems, which is why only three ballots changed..

The potential for these problems is far greater in mail-in ballots but these ballots were already assessed as they were counted. The Board of Elections has already ruled on any ballots with overvotes, following the extremely detailed set of guidelines from the state. Even though these ballots almost certainly contain a higher share of overvotes, the potential for change is quite low.

Good news for Elrich.