District 17 Vote Count Tightens; Leaders Are Barve, Platt, Gilchrist

It’s not exactly true, as reported elsewhere in the blogosphere, that Andrew Platt “cruised to victory” in the six-way race for three District 17 delegate seats.

At this moment, Platt retains a five-vote lead in second place over Jim Gilchrist, who is in third place, and a 100-vote margin over Susan Hoffman, out of more than 5,000 votes cast in the Democratic primary.  (Monday, June 30, 2014 @ 3 p.m.)

Hoffman remains out of the money in fourth place, but she has gained slightly on both Platt and Gilchrist in the count of absentee and provisional ballots. Here are the unofficial totals as reported by the Maryland Election Board today:

  1. Del. Kumar Barve,  5,625,  25.4 percent
  2. Andrew Platt,  4,497,  20.3 percent
  3. Del. Jim Gilchrist,  4,492,  20.3 percent
  4. Susan Hoffman,  4,392  19.9 percent

In the District 17 Democratic primary for State Senate, Cheryl Kagan remains safely ahead, with 4,583 votes (54.5 percent) at this time, over Luis Simmons, who has 3,831 votes (45.5 percent). Simmons is not gaining in the absentee count. The outcome of the District 17 State Senate race is not in doubt.

Platt, Gilchrist and Hoffman have been locked in a near statistical dead heat at about 20 percent since early on the evening of election day.  The number of votes separating the three has narrowed as the days pass.

It’s not clear how many provisional and absentee ballots remain to be counted. Final totals are not expected to be announced before July 10.

Hoffman, former Rockville mayor, has been gaining ground in the absentees, but very slowly. It’s still conceivable that Hoffman could emerge as one of the three winners. But most observers would say it’s improbable at this point.

Based on the percentage distribution of absentee votes, it does appear likely that Gilchrist will overtake Platt for second place by a few votes, and that Platt will finish with a delegate seat in third place, with a margin of fewer than 100 votes over Hoffman. Please check my arithmetic.

Here’s the distribution of absentee ballots counted so far:

  1. Barve,   258
  2. Hoffman,  232
  3. Gilchrist,  224
  4. Platt,  207

Sports fans, we have a cliffhanger right here in District 17, demonstrating once again that every single vote is important.

If you’d like to follow this sudden-death overtime at home, the Maryland Election Board is posting updates every 20 minutes.

Comments are welcome below.

— John Hayden 


Cheryl Kagan Wins District 17 Senate Race; Paper-Thin Margins In Delegate Race

Cheryl Kagan won a close and nasty race for State Senate in District 17 Tuesday with 4,335 votes, defeating Del. Luiz Simmons, who had 3,629 votes. The margin of victory was Kagan, 54.43 percent, Simmons 45.57 percent. All results reported by the Maryland Election Board late Tuesday night are unofficial.

The campaign deteriorated in the final weeks into an exchange of negative advertising by the two candidates.

Kagan, a former delegate, lost to Sen. Jennie Forehand by a narrow margin four years ago. This year, Sen. Forehand opted to retire, setting up the contest between Kagan and Simmons.

(Note: Delegate vote totals below updated at 5 a.m. Wednesday.)

Del. Kumar Barve was the clear winner in the six-way contest for three District 17 seats in the House of Delegates, with 5,344 votes, or 25.49 percent. District 17 includes Gaithersburg and Rockville in the heart of Montgomery County.

First-time candidate Andrew Platt was in second place with 4,274 votes, edging past Del. Jim Gilchrist, who had 4,250, for the third seat.

Former Rockville mayor Susan Hoffman appears to have failed to win a seat by a margin of just 113 votes. She had 4,137 votes.

Platt, Gilchrist and Hoffman were locked in a nail-biter all evening, with each pulling about 20 percent of the vote.

The percentages at 5 a.m. are: Platt, 20.39 percent, Gilchrist, 20.27 percent, and Hoffman, 19.73 percent.

It’s not unusual for delegate races in Montgomery County to be decided by 400 votes, or even 300, but 113 votes is almost too close to call, in my opinion. It’s possible that the outcome could be changed by the absentee and provisional ballots, which will not be counted for several weeks. Is there any way to do a recount or an audit on the county’s paperless, high-tech voting system?

The trailing candidates in District 17 were Laurie-Anne Sayles, with 2,227 votes, and George Zamora.

— John Hayden