Updated: Frederick County Council president requests recount in primary race

·4 min read

Aug. 4—Frederick County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer requested a recount Thursday in her primary election race, which an official count from the Frederick County Board of Elections showed she lost by three votes.

Keegan-Ayer has requested that election officials recount by hand each of the 4,600 ballots cast in the race for the Democratic nomination for the District 3 council seat. District 3 encompasses the west side of Frederick.

"That would give a full account of all the votes," Keegan-Ayer said in a phone interview on Thursday. "It would not cherry pick any precincts."

Keegan-Ayer, the council's president since 2018, lost to first-time candidate Jazmin Di Cola, a business owner and community advocate, results from the county Board of Elections showed.

Di Cola received 2,300 votes, or 50.03%, and Keegan-Ayer got 2,297, or 49.97%.

"I feel confident about the election results and the recount will provide peace of mind to [Keegan-Ayer] and her supporters," Di Cola wrote in a text message Thursday.

"I respect her decision to request the recount, however, it's evident that the district wants new leadership," she wrote.

Frederick County election officials notified the Maryland State Board of Elections about the recount and planned to also get in touch with Di Cola, county Elections Director Barbara Wagner said in a phone interview on Thursday.

Election officials will spend Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday preparing for the recount, Wagner said.

The Frederick County Board of Elections plans to assemble a team of 16 people, comprising volunteer canvassers and election officials, including some from outside the county.

Wagner said the board plans to reach out to election boards in Howard, Baltimore and Carroll counties to ask for help with the recount. As of Thursday, seven people from election boards outside Frederick County were scheduled to assist with the recount.

The Frederick County Board of Elections plans to begin the recount on Aug. 11. If needed, it will continue counting on Aug. 12, Wagner said.

Once officials finish the recount, they will post the results to the county Board of Elections' website and send them to the Maryland State Board of Elections.

Wagner said the county Board of Elections will have to pull all 23,000 ballots from the July 7 to 14 early voting period, mail-in voting and provisional voting, which voters use if there was a question about their eligibility or registration when they went to a polling place.

Election officials also will have to sort through all ballots cast from a polling place in council District 3 on Primary Election Day, including Republican ballots and those without a vote cast in the County Council race, she said. The election officials will then batch the District 3 ballots by precinct to be counted.

On Monday, Frederick County election officials certified results from the July 19 primary election and subsequent days of mail-in and provisional ballot counts. By state law, Keegan-Ayer had until the close of business on Thursday to request a recount.

If the results hold, Di Cola will advance to the Nov. 8 general election to face former Frederick Alderman Shelley Aloi, who ran unopposed for the Republican nomination. Aloi is the executive director of the Marriage Resource Center of Frederick County Inc.

Under Maryland law, there is no threshold that triggers a recount in an election, but candidates may request one.

A candidate who requests a recount must post a bond to pay for it. However, there is no charge for the recount under certain conditions, such as if a recount leads to a change in results or if the difference between the first- and second-place finishers is within 0.25%, according to Maryland law.

The county Board of Elections last conducted a recount in 2010, when then-Del. Paul Stull finished the District 4A Republican primary just seven votes behind Kelly Schulz, county Board of Elections President Mary Lou Green previously said to the News-Post.

Schulz went on to win the nomination after canvassers found one uncounted absentee ballot among the 171 provisional and absentee ballots that Stull requested to be recounted, according to a September 2010 report from the News-Post.

Follow Jack Hogan on Twitter: @jckhogan