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What you need to know about the Baltimore County executive race recount

The Baltimore Sun

Election officials on Thursday will begin the task of manually recounting nearly 85,000 paper ballots cast in last month’s Democratic primary for Baltimore County executive. Here’s some facts about this close race:

» Johnny O is ahead. Former Del. Johnny Olszewski Jr. was declared the winner by nine votes over State Sen. Jim Brochin. County Councilwoman Vicki Almond is nearly 1,000 votes behind in third.

» Scene of the count. The recount will take place at the county board’s offices in Hunt Valley, observed by members of the Brochin and Olszewski camps.

» How is it done? Elections officials will set up teams of bipartisan judges who will review ballots in groups of 50, placing the ballots in piles for each candidate. Any ballots with questionable marks will be sent to election board members for a ruling.

» How long will it take? The count is expected to take five or six days — meaning a winner won’t be known in the race until at least three weeks after the primary.

» Are there choices for how recounts work? The manual recount is the most extensive of four options that losing candidates can request when petitioning for a recount. The options are:

* Manually tabulating the report totals from ballot scanners.

* Scanning all the paper ballots again.

* Manually recounting just the scanned images of ballots.

* Manually recounting every paper ballot.

In addition, candidates can narrow the focus if they desire, asking for a recount of ballots only from a particular precinct or early voting center, or only absentee or provisional ballots.

» Who pays for this? Taxpayers. Under state law, the Brochin campaign does not have to pay for the recount because the margin of victory was less than 0.1 percent. Elections officials haven’t estimated how much it will cost.

» When was the last time a county race was this close? Baltimore County last had a recount four years ago: In the Republican primary for county executive, George Harman beat Tony Campbell by 18 votes. A recount expanded Harman’s margin to 20 votes.

--Pamela Wood

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