Personnel issues blamed for slow vote count in Montgomery County Executive race

Slow election returns are causing frustration in Montgomery County as voters are still waiting to know who won the Democratic primary for county executive between incumbent Marc Elrich anf David Blair.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Blair holds a razor-thin lead over Elrich with less than 200 votes separating the two candidates and tens of thousands of mail-in ballots still waiting to be counted.

Many voters across Montgomery County are wondering what the hold up is with the count.

Election officials tell FOX 5 they’ve been dealing with issues getting enough volunteer election canvassers. They say they only have 40 people who are doing the work of preparing Maryland's 63,918 mail-in ballots.

READ MORE: Montgomery County election officials begin counting mail-in ballots; Why results could take days to weeks

As a result, the current County Executive Marc Elrich had sharp words on Wednesday for what he called a "disappointing" performance by the Board of Elections. 

"It’s a preparation issue like I said they knew some of these things they were going to have to deal with some of these problem and I'm not going to get into more than that I'm just disappointed," said Elrich.

March Elrich (left) and David Blair (right)

The Board of Elections responded by telling FOX 5 that if they don’t get more support from the county government, then future election delays could be even worse.

"A lot of people think this works by magic and its registered voters. We need civic-minded individuals to step up. Not just at the polls but also at the precincts, at the office serving as poll workers or canvassers," said Dr. Gilberto Zeleya from the county's Board of Elections.

Voters FOX 5 spoke with say they were unaware of the problem, and wonder how much longer the counting is going to take. 

"People lose hope and confidence in the system it’s like what’s going on, it makes you think something's going on," one voter indicated.

READ MORE: Could a recount be possible in the Montgomery County Executive race?

Another voter FOX 5 spoke with said citizens should get more involved in the vote counting process.

"I think we should be more involved I think my age group should be more involved in general," said the voter.

Further adding to the problem, counting the mail-in ballots could not begin on election day last Tuesday, thanks to a Maryland law that says the counting of the ballots cannot begin until two days after the election.

Election officials say mail-in ballots continue to come in, and any ballots that are postmarked on election day will still be accepted until Friday, when the next canvassing of votes is expected to happen.

Four years ago, the 2018 race between Elrich and Blair came down to 77 votes.

Under Maryland law, if the final vote total falls within .25%, the ballots would have to be recounted, which means it could be weeks before we have a winner.