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Taylor concedes

Republican newcomer LeRoy E. Myers Jr. of Clear Spring finaly can call himself

Republican newcomer LeRoy E. Myers Jr. of Clear Spring finaly can call himself

November 27, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - After losing more ground Tuesday during a recount of Nov. 5 election returns, Democratic Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. conceded to Republican newcomer LeRoy E. Myers Jr. of Clear Spring.

Later, Myers spoke with quiet excitement about his 76-vote victory, glad that three weeks after Election Day he could finally introduce himself as "delegate-elect."

Election officials in Washington and Allegany counties recounted more than 11,000 ballots Monday and Tuesday at the request of Taylor, who was footing the bill.

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The vote totals did not change in Allegany County, Taylor's home county, where he received 4,381 votes to Myers' 2,783.

In Washington County, though, Myers added five votes to his lead, with 2,874 votes to Taylor's 1,200.

Myers led Taylor by 139 votes on Election Day. When absentee ballots were counted two days later, Myers' lead slipped to 71 votes.

Taylor asked for a recount and posted a $10,000 bond to cover the costs.

Taylor declined to comment about the race until it was finished.

True to his word, he issued a conciliatory two-page statement Tuesday congratulating Myers, thanking supporters and lobbying for his district.

"To those colleagues, journalists and downstate leaders who expressed surprise and disappointment over the outcome of the election and the end of my nine-year tenure as Speaker of the House," the statement says, "I can say with total sincerity and peace of mind that this event stands as further proof of the daunting challenges that have faced Cumberland and its nearby communities."

He hinted that he'll stay in the public eye.

"After 28 years of long days and continuous travel to and from Annapolis, I am looking forward to private life, but I fully expect and hope to continue in some form of public service," his statement says.

Myers said he was faced with a delicate balance during the uncertain last few weeks - exuberance and anticipation.

"I did not want to appear I was the delegate until I actually was the delegate-elect because that's the kind of guy I am," he said.

Still, Myers began training for elected life, attending a Republican caucus and an Allegany County Commission meeting.

At about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday, Myers learned that he indeed would be the District 1C delegate, a region that's two-thirds in Allegany County and one-third in Washington County.

That was when one of Taylor's representatives in Washington County said the speaker was giving up.

Election workers had just spent nearly five hours counting ballots by hand at the Washington County Board of Elections.

They sat in two-person teams at tables. As the ballots were counted, campaign representatives hawkishly watched. Masking tape on the floor marked the closest spot where they could stand and observe.

Of the 61 Washington County undervotes from Election Day - ballots in which optical scanners did not record votes - seven of them were counted after the board of elections examined them.

Six votes went to Myers, one vote to Taylor.

One voter had not filled in an arrow that indicated a write-in vote and another underlined Taylor's name instead of filling in the arrow. One used blue ink instead of black and another marked a dot on the ballot instead of a thick line.

Optical scanners were programmed to read ballots in which the middle of an arrow was filled in next to the desired candidate.

State election guidelines say that the county board of elections must have two successive vote counts in which the totals match, according to Roger Schlossberg, the attorney for the county's board of elections.

Election workers braced for two recounts Tuesday in Washington County, assuming the election board would rule on at least some undervotes on Election Day.

However, when the first recount was finished and the change in the vote total could be reconciled, the Taylor camp stopped the proceedings.

"The candidate said (through his representative), 'This is futile ...,'" Schlossberg said. "We just recounted 4,100 ballots with a net change of 5. ... All were attributable to things that made sense."

Myers said he was relieved when Taylor's representative turned to him and said, "Well, sir, it's over."

The Allegany County recount started Monday and concluded Tuesday morning.

Myers said he had questioned all along whether the time and effort of a recount was necessary. Ballots in Allegany County were computerized and not subject to interpretation of intent.

That left Taylor with the task of making up 71 votes in Washington County, which strongly favored Myers on Election Day.

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