Board of Elections completes exhaustive count

Friday, Sept. 22, 2006

The near-final results for the Sept. 12 primary in Prince George’s County came in shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday, closing out a tedious process in which election officials had to upload votes from 47 voter cards that had been left uncounted for eight days.

The Board also finished counting the thousands of provisional and absentee ballots, meaning the only step left is to certify the election, which will be done today.

The 47 cards, which officials began counting Wednesday, had been left accidentally in machines from 26 precincts. Elections administrator Robert Antonetti said the Board could not retrieve them on election night because they were locked in the buildings where they had been used.

But as officials uploaded the cards in the warehouse at the Board’s headquarters in Upper Marlboro, they noticed some irregularities with the machines holding the cards. Most of the problems involved 12 machines from a precinct in Landover. Tamper tape, which is supposed to be sealed over the machines to show that they have not been disturbed, was not in the right place on some of those machines.

Board attorney Robert McGinley said proper procedure had been ‘‘blatantly not followed” in that precinct. The Board even called one of the chief judges from that precinct on Thursday to testify on the matter.

But McGinley said there was no actual evidence of outside tampering in those machines. The problems were logged, and the votes from those machines were still counted.

‘‘We’ve noted all the concerns,” McGinley said. ‘‘We have documented well ... any irregularities found in these machines.”

From all indications, the results of the close races appeared not to have changed. Former Navy attorney Ingrid Turner was still beating Bowie Mayor G. Frederick Robinson in the race for the County Council’s District 4 seat, though her lead narrowed from 100 votes to just 58. Robinson filed a ‘‘formal objection” with the Board on Thursday, claiming the provisional count was performed without enough oversight, and that some of the voting machines were not secure.

In the District 26 House of Delegates race, one of the closest in the election, Del. Veronica Turner, former NFL quarterback Jay Walker and TV anchor Kris Valderrama stayed in the lead.

And in the District 4 Congressional race, Fort Washington attorney Donna Edwards remained behind U.S. Rep. Albert Wynn (D) by 17 points, but results are still being counted from Montgomery County, the portion of the district where Edwards enjoyed a nearly two-to-one lead.

E-mail Judson Berger at