Katie Fry Hester increased her lead Friday morning over Gail Bates for the District 9 Senate seat. Shortly after 1:30 am, the Howard County Canvassing Board announced the results of the first canvass of absentee ballots.
Hester now leads Bates by 531 votes. The absentee canvass result was 1076 for Hester and 707 for Bates. After election night on Tuesday, Hester held a lead of 154 votes. Earlier in the day Thursday, the results of the absentee canvass in Carroll County was announced. Hester picked up 8 votes in the Carroll portion of the district with votes 116 while Bates had 108 votes. Hester now has 32,366 votes to 31,835 for Bates.
The all-day canvass began at 10 am Thursday in Columbia. A total of 4375 absentee ballots were processed. 4356 were accepted while 19 were rejected. The major time-consuming step is that emailed ballots had to be recreated by hand onto machine-readable ballots.
Voters should be reminded to remember to sign the oath and to NOT print the oath of an emailed ballot on the back of the ballot itself. Also do NOT write your name on the top the ballots apparently to differentiate which ballot belongs to the various members in a household. Also do NOT send in the ballot for the primary election. All of these ballot mistakes were rejected.
Representatives for Gail Bates challenged the decision to reject 6 ballots which had the oath printed on the back of the ballot arguing unsuccessfully that the double-sided printing was inadvertent and not done “purposefully” to place an identifying mark on the ballot.
The provisional and additional absentee canvasses will be conducted next week.
UPDATE: This post was updated to add the information on the number of ballots processed and the major reasons for rejections.