Incumbent Harford County Del. Susan McComas still had a lead of 61 votes over Walter “Butch” Tilley in the Republican primary race to represent Legislative District 34B in Annapolis following Thursday’s count of more than 200 provisional ballots.
Candidates, McComas among them, who were in the lead after primary election day on June 26 and stayed there after the first canvass of absentee ballots June 28, remained there after the provisional canvass Thursday.
Board of Elections staffers counted 214 provisional ballots during the second of three post-election day canvasses Thursday morning. The process, which lasted about 90 minutes, took place in the training room of the Harford County Elections Board headquarters in Forest Hill while a group of 11 candidates, their supporters and interested citizens observed.
McComas has not declared victory, however, as more than 300 absentee and provisional ballots must still be counted.
“There’s still more to come in,” said McComas, who has been in office since 2003 and represents greater Bel Air and Abingdon. Hers was one of the few close ones locally in last week’s primary election voting.
The final canvass will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the board of elections at 133 Industry Lane in Forest Hill. The canvass is open to the public.
Elections officials expect to count 323 ballots — 281 absentee and 42 provisional that were not counted Thursday because the voter had requested an absentee, but did not receive it and voted provisional at their polling place, Taylor explained.
McComas is in first place in a four-way Republican race against Tilley, a Harford County Liquor Control Board member, County Councilman James McMahan and Jan Marine Christensen.
The winner will face Democrat Jeff Dinger, who was unopposed in the primary.
The final count Thursday was accepted by the five-person board of elections, sitting as the Board of Canvassers.
Elections officials received 335 total provisional ballots — 143 were accepted “in full,” another 71 were accepted “in part,” and the other 121 were rejected.
Five of those rejected ballots were submitted by voters who were not registered in Harford County by the June 5 deadline, and the rest had been filled out by voters who are unaffiliated, or they voted for candidates in the party opposing their registered party, such as a registered Democrat had voted for Republican candidates, according to Stephanie Taylor, project manager for the board of elections.
Voters who want to learn why their individual ballot was rejected can visit the Maryland State Board of Elections website or call 1-800-222-8683, Maria Terry, the Board of Canvassers chair, announced.
Linda Stine Flint, president of Harford County Republican Women, said she was impressed with the counting process. She is a candidate for the Republican Central Committee of Harford County, in 14th place out of 19 candidates with 5,956 votes as of Thursday.
Flint said she would see what she could do, based on what she witnessed at the canvass, to help educate and inform people about the voting process.
“It’s so important,” she said. “You’ve got to follow the rules, color in that circle [for your choice].”
Wesyna Davis, campaign treasurer for Sarahia Benn — a Democratic candidate for one of two District 34A seats in the House of Delegates — watched along with Benn and her godson, 12-year-old Khalel Payton, of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
“We thought it would be a good teachable moment [for Khalel],” Davis, an Aberdeen resident, said.
She said “a lot of people just don’t know about the voting process.”
“Or they question the integrity of it,” Benn added.
Davis recalled hearing from many people of color, who believed their votes would not matter, while campaigning in District 34A. That district covers the Route 40 corridor through Edgewood, Aberdeen and Havre de Grace.
“That’s what I was told quite a bit,” she said.
In the District 34A delegate race, incumbent Republican Del. Glen Glass and J.D. Russell remain in the top two spots with 1,741 and 1,692 votes, respectively. Monica Worrell, a Havre de Grace City Council member, is in third with 1,643, plus R. Douglas Anstine picked up an additional provisional ballot to increase his total to 167 votes, according to the unofficial results posted on the Harford County elections board website.
Del. Mary Ann Lisanti, the second District 34A incumbent and Harford County’s lone Democratic elected leader, remains well ahead in first place in the three-way race for her party’s two slots on the general election ballot. Lisanti has 3,757 votes, or 46.7 percent, while Steve Johnson is in second with 2,172 and Benn is in third with 2,101, meaning the first-time candidate is still 71 votes out of second place.
Benn picked up 18 provisional votes Thursday, although Johnson also picked up 18, and Lisanti got 26, according to the results.
McComas picked up five more votes in the Republican race for District 34B, while Tilley earned six provisionals. McMahan earned three more votes, but Christensen earned no more.
McComas has 1,085, Tilley has 1,024, McMahan 731 and Christensen 540 votes.
Dinger, the Democrat, earned 13 provisional ballots, bringing his total to 2,022 votes.
Another, even tighter race is for the Republican nomination for the Harford County Council District E seat. Robert Wagner, a former District E councilman and council president, leads Diane Sengstacke by only 34 votes - 1,250 to 1,216. Wagner picked up six more votes Thursday, while Sengstacke got three more, giving Wagner a net gain of three.
The winner will face Democrat Bridgette Johnson, who picked up 11 provisional votes for a total of 1,837.
Frank “Bud” Hines remains ahead of Samuel Gibson III in the Democratic race for County Council president, 6,159 to 6,024 votes.
The winner will face District E Councilman Patrick Vincenti, who has nearly 80 percent of the vote in the Republican primary race for council president. Vincenti has 13,434 votes, compared to 3,419 votes for Shawn Kingston.
Donna Blasdell is ahead of Paula Mullis in the Republican race for the District A council seat — 838 to 585 — and Andre Johnson leads former District A Councilman Dion Guthrie on the Democratic side — 1,415 to 1,214 votes.