Sophocleus asks ballot recount in 22 precincts

November 10, 1990|By David Michael Ettlin

Disturbed by election results that contradicted polls and their own political thinking, campaign aides of Theodore J. Sophocleus, the defeated Anne Arundel County executive candidate, asked yesterday for a recount of the ballots in 22 precincts.

The precincts are in northern Anne Arundel's 2nd and 3rd Councilmanic districts -- including the Glen Burnie area and Pasadena -- where Mr. Sophocleus, a Democratic councilman from Linthicum, had been expected to do well on Election Day in his contest with Republican Robert R. Neall.

Polls before the election and exit polls taken Tuesday by a local television station and by both candidates showed Mr. Sophocleus running ahead of Mr. Neall.

"The polls indicated a substantial lead, and we feel [Mr. Sophocleus] should have won [by a percentage count of] 56-44," said Les Cohen, the councilman's campaign coordinator. "We didn't. We lost by 2 points."

In the precincts questioned -- 22 of the 35 polling places in the 2nd and 3rd districts -- the percentage of voters who are Democrats ranges from 55.9 percent to 73.5 percent, but the percentage of the votes for Mr. Sophocleus ran from 44.5 percent to 61.1 percent, Mr. Cohen said.

The number of Democrats and Republicans who cast ballots Tuesday has not yet been determined by the county election board.

The bottom line in the 22 precincts showed Mr. Sophocleus with 9,996 votes and Mr. Neall with 9,153.

"We think that the spread there should have been much more substantial by a long shot," Mr. Cohen said.

Another oddity cited by Mr. Cohen was that after the tally of absentee ballots, the number of votes cast countywide for Mr. Sophocleus and for Gov. William Donald Schaefer were remarkably similar: 56,177 and 56,176, respectively.

Mr. Schaefer also was a loser in Anne Arundel, although statewide he handily won re-election.

Mr. Cohen said the possibility of a glitch involving the computerized voting machines introduced in Anne Arundel in the primary election and used again on Tuesday should not be

overlooked, and he said the ballots should be inspected and counted by hand.

The election board made a counterproposal yesterday, offering a recount in six precincts countywide -- two each in the races for county executive, County Council and state Senate -- to see whether there is any indication of a problem and to "maintain voter confidence in the system."

Mr. Cohen said the Sophocleus campaign likely would accept that offer before pursuing its other option -- going to court to seek a recount that could cost the Sophocleus campaign more than $6,000.

Nancy L. Crawford, the county election board administrator, said last night that because the Sophocleus campaign did not respond by late afternoon to the offer of the smaller recount, no action will be taken before Tuesday.

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