The Frederick County Board of Elections finished counting ballots and certified election results Friday night — and the next County Council will have a Democratic majority.
Phil Dacey, a Republican, won the second at-large seat, with 45,017 votes. He tentatively joins Democrat Kai Hagen, who secured a seat earlier this week.
Danny Farrar, a Republican, finished behind him with 44,713 votes. Even though he could ask for a free recount under state law, he said by phone Friday night he wouldn’t ask for one, and would accept the results as they stand.
“Nothing but the best of luck to Kai [Hagen] and [Phil] Dacey,” Farrar said. “I hope they do great things for Frederick County.”
In that race, however, Susan Reeder Jessee, a Democrat, finished with 44,495 votes.
Dacey said that if the results hold, he’s “happy” about the win and looking forward to serving Frederick County.
“I appreciate all the exchanges I had with the fellow candidates,” he said by phone Friday night. “Getting to know them throughout the campaign was a pleasure.”
Reeder Jessee said by phone Friday night she was still deciding whether to request a recount.
“I would have to think more about it,” she said. “I just have a great trust in our Frederick County election system. ... I have to talk to my team, and if it’s something that people want, I’ll consider it.”
In the District 1 race, Democratic incumbent Jerry Donald was re-elected, getting 11,681 votes. His Republican challenger, Kevin Grubb, finished with 11,336 votes.
Donald thanked everyone who worked on his campaign in an interview Friday night.
“I thought it was a positive campaign overall,” Donald said. “I was happy to see so many more people vote in this election, whether it be Democrats, Republicans or unaffiliated voters.”
Grubb wished Donald the best of luck, and asked him and the new County Council to keep the citizens in mind.
“Just making services more accessible,” Grubb told The Frederick News-Post of one example. “People work from 8 to 4, and the county’s open from 8 to 4, and they [the county] need to think about that. ... People are working when the county is open, so they need to take time off.”
Pending any recount requests, the end of Friday marked an end of canvassing and ballot counting for many election workers. On Friday morning, roughly two dozen of them were counting absentee and provisional ballots, making sure they were completed legally.
Election Director Stuart Harvey said multiple factors could render a ballot unacceptable — from an absentee ballot being postmarked later than Election Day to voters putting an “identifying mark” — a signature or initials — on the ballot itself.
He added that he received a ballot at the post office from Korea on Friday morning, which was mailed on Oct. 15. Given that it was filled out correctly, it got to Frederick County just in time, he said.
“That’s like a major find — if you can enfranchise somebody who went to the trouble to get the absentee ballot, put it in a foreign mail system, and it took a month to get here,” Harvey said.
Bipartisan teams, made up of the best election judges in Frederick County, helped count and canvass the absentee and provisional ballots this week, Harvey said. Dan Loftus, counsel for the Board of Elections since 2005, said these workers and staff members make a “great team” for the local electoral system.
When it comes to controversial ballots, election workers take them to the Board of Elections, which is composed of two Democrats and three Republicans. The governor currently in power leads to which way the board leans, according to Harvey.
He added, however, that the board has to be unanimous in its decision. If they need help, they can consult Loftus.
“I do know election law,” Loftus said Friday. “Before I became the board attorney, I used to run political campaigns. ... That’s what I bring in terms of expertise: the knowledge of the law.”
He added that when it comes to checking ballots, it’s always safe to double-check certain statutes and aspects of the law.
“If there’s ever an issue, we look it up,” Loftus said. “I had a professor one time that said, just because you think you know what the law is, look it up.”
The deadline for any candidate to ask for a recount is by the end of Monday, according to state law.