The recounting of more than 87,000 ballots in the Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive is expected to conclude Saturday.
That’s a faster end to the process than was initially expected, and it means that county Democrats could know by the end of the day — 2½ weeks after the primary — who their nominee will be for November’s general election.
Former Del. Johnny Olszewski Jr. saw his lead grow to 12 votes over second-place finisher state Sen. Jim Brochin in Friday’s count.
Olszewski was declared the winner one week ago by nine votes after early voting, Election Day, absentee and provisional ballots were counted. Brochin requested the recount, citing the narrow margin. County Councilwoman Vicki Almond finished third, and Carney resident Kevin Marron was fourth.
Officials had said earlier this week that the recount could take five days or more, but at the conclusion of two days of reviewing and recounting ballots by hand, election officials have about 15,000 remaining.
“It’s a testament to how hard the board is working and how efficient they are that we’re ahead of schedule,” said Tucker Cavanagh, Olszewski’s campaign manager.
The review of paper ballots, being conducted in a warehouse at the Baltimore County Board of Elections headquarters in Hunt Valley, will resume early Saturday.
After the first day of the recount Thursday, Olszewski’s lead had grown to 10 votes after he picked up three votes and Brochin picked up two. Almond also gained three votes. Most of the changes came as elections officials made determinations on “over votes” — ballots on which voters made a mark for more than one candidate.
When that happens, ballot scanners award no vote to any candidate. But as the ballots are reviewed by hand, election officials can sometimes determine the voter’s intent and award the vote to one of the candidates.
The ballots left to recount Saturday include provisional and absentee ballots, plus a second review of ballots from early-voting centers in Arbutus, Randallstown and Reisterstown. The recount of provisional and absentee ballots might move faster because they were already reviewed by officials when they were first tallied in the week after the primary.
Neither Olszewski nor Brochin attended the county process Friday, though observers representing them watched the proceedings.
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The winner will face Republican nominee Al Redmer Jr. in November.