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Victory declared

Myers watches count of absentee ballots

Myers watches count of absentee ballots

November 08, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

LeRoy E. Myers Jr. declared victory Thursday after absentee ballots confirmed his upset of Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. in Tuesday's election.

But with Myers' margin of victory shrinking by half - to 71 votes - Taylor could still decide to ask for a recount.

Taylor did not attend the ballot counts in Allegany and Washington counties.

Myers camped out at the Allegany County Election Office all day, watching election officials complete the painstakingly slow process of opening and examining more than 1,000 absentee ballots. About one-third of those were in District 1C where Myers and Taylor ran.

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When the final tally was announced at the end of the day, Myers let out a sigh of relief and hugged a small group of supporters who had gathered there.

Myers then called his wife, LuAnn Myers. "Are you sitting down? We did it," he told her.

He turned to reporters and said, "I'm obviously very ecstatic. I just want to put it behind us now. I want to get busy right away."

Myers, a Republican, said he already has looked at three possible sites in Cumberland to set up his delegate's office. His construction business, Myers Building Systems Inc. near Clear Spring, will serve as his Washington County office, he said.

Before noon, Myers learned he had picked up 42 extra votes in Washington County, widening his Election-Day lead from 139 to 181.

In Allegany County, Taylor picked up 66 percent of the absentee votes, chipping Myers' lead back to 71 votes.

Myers said he hired a lawyer to attend the ballot count because as a first-time candidate he is unfamiliar with the rules.

Taylor sent his son, Brendan Taylor, along with a lawyer to watch the process.

With absentee ballots counted in both counties, the totals stand at 5,645 votes for Myers and 5,574 votes for Taylor. The margin is about six-tenths of one percent.

Maryland Democratic Party spokesman David Paulson said it will be up to Taylor to decide whether to contest the election, but in his opinion it would be worthwhile.

"It's worth a shot. You whittle away. You find a couple errors here and there," he said.

Paulson was to return to the Allegany County Election Office today to watch election officials canvass the votes by sampling a percentage of the machines to ensure the count was accurate.

Taylor cannot contest the election until after the results are certified. That deadline is Dec. 10.

Taylor, reached by phone Thursday evening at his Allegany County home, would not concede.

"Obviously, I'm disappointed in the absentee count," he said. "But I'm going to wait until the canvass is finished tomorrow."

Taylor declined to comment on a published report Thursday in which he seemed to indicate an interest in becoming state treasurer if he lost the election.

Taylor passed last year on a chance to become treasurer after Richard Dixon resigned.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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