$54,000 for a recount, voting at the library and other primary election fallout

·4 min read

Brian Albert garnered 37 more votes than Jim Holsinger to win the Republican Party's nomination for Washington County sheriff.

There will not be a recount.

According to the primary results, certified by the Washington County Board of Elections on Monday, Albert garnered 4,881 votes to 4,844 for Holsinger. A third GOP candidate, Greg Alton, received 3,522 votes.

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Barry Jackson, Washington County's deputy election director, said Holsinger had until the end of the business day Thursday to request a recount. No request came, and the deadline passed.

In Maryland, if the margin is within 0.25% of the votes cast, the county will pay for the recount, Jackson said. If the margin is greater that 0.25%, the candidate or his campaign must foot the bill.

In a text Friday morning, Holsinger said he was told his vote total fell five votes short of having the county pay for the recount.

He also was told that the recount would cost $54,202.

"This, along with the substantial legal fees, is the reason I have not moved forward with a recount," Holsinger wrote.

According to the itemized statement from the election board, the bill included $18,600 to pay the people who would work on the recount, and $12,750 to cover the election board's attorney's fees. Holsinger also would have had costs of his own.

Albert is retired from the Maryland Natural Resources Police and now serves as the county's 911 director. He was at the election board headquarters for most of the day July 29, the final day for canvassing of mail-in ballots.

"After being there and watching the count, I think we do a great job in Washington County of doing it right," he said late Friday.

Holsinger is a lieutenant with the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

The Democratic Party's nominee is Junior McLeod, who was unopposed in the primary. Unaffiliated candidate Bill Williams has declared his intention to file for the November ballot.

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The number of ballots cast jumped from 15,628 in 2018 — the last midterm election — to 21,920 this year, and turnout rose from 21% to 29%.

Jackson, the deputy election director, attributed most of that increase to mail-in ballots.

In 2018, 536 mail-in ballots were filed, he said. This year that figure jumped by more than tenfold, to 5,912.

How did the library work as an early voting site?

More than 450 early voters cast ballots at the Washington County Free Library in downtown Hagerstown, a site that was somewhat controversial when it was chosen last year.

Under state law, Washington County must have two early-voting sites because it has between 50,000 and 100,000 registered voters.

The law also stipulates several factors the local election board "shall take into account" when deciding where to put early-voting sites. Those include proximity to dense concentrations of voters and accessibility to historically disenfranchised communities, including cultural, ethnic and minority groups, the law states.

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After reviewing the state's rules and potential sites, the election board chose the Washington County Free Library downtown as the No. 2 early voting location.

Some people, including the Washington County commissioners, were disappointed in that choice. The commissioners said the library, at 100 S. Potomac St., is about 2.5 miles from the primary early-voting site at the election board offices, which are at 17718 Virginia Ave. in Halfway. The commissioners said they would have preferred another location farther away.

In all, 468 early voters cast ballots at the library, said Jackson, the deputy election director. And 2,729 other early voters used the Virginia Avenue site.

About 300 people cast early ballots in 2010, the first year it was allowed, Jackson said.

Are the races set?

Primary election voters chose candidates for the Democratic and Republican parties, but people still have time to get their names on the November general election ballots as write-in candidates.

The deadline to file for a write-in candidacy is 5 p.m. on Oct. 20, according to the election board's website.

No filing fee is required.

But a write-in candidate must comply with other requirements, such as filing a statement of organization and a financial disclosure statement.

The details are on the Maryland State Board of Elections website.

Mike Lewis covers business, the economy and other issues. Follow Mike on Twitter: @MiLewis.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: No recount in Washington County Republican sheriff's race