Recount confirms Rosso's victory Margin over Schade in delegate race slips from 18 to 6

November 24, 1998|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

By a margin that narrowed with an unprecedented recount, Mary Rosso has been confirmed the winner of the House of Delegates seat in District 31 by six votes over incumbent Del. Victoria L. Schade.

The first count, made official Nov. 16, gave Rosso, a Glen Burnie Democrat, an 18-vote margin over Schade, a Pasadena Republican.

The recount found that the county's ballot-counting machines failed to read 278 votes for House of Delegates candidates. Anne Arundel is one of 17 jurisdictions in the state using optical scanners to read paper ballots.

"Pretty amazing," Schade said of the narrow margin. "It tells us that we need to look into why those votes weren't counted by the machine."

Some of the difference between the two counts probably resulted from ballots disqualified because they were marked with blue ink instead of black markers or No. 2 pencils, or because they contained stray pen marks, said James Praley, attorney for the county Board of Elections Supervisors.

With the lease for the current vote-counting system up after the 2000 elections, officials are likely to begin looking at other ways to record votes, said Barbara L. Fisher, the county elections director.

Schade gained 48 votes, going from 15,318 last week to 15,366 yesterday. Rosso gained 36 votes, going from 15,336 votes to 15,372 votes.

"I don't care if it was one vote; I just wanted to get in," Rosso said after entering the election board headquarters to cheers and hugs from supporters yesterday evening after the final tally. "It does show people that they really do need to get out. They need to do the absentee ballots. This brings it home loud and clear that every single vote is important."

Rosso's husband of 42 years died Wednesday, and she said she did not keep up with the three-day recount because it would have been too emotionally draining. His funeral was Saturday.

Schade asked for the recount Wednesday. With such a narrow margin, Schade said, a recount seemed worthwhile, though she will have to pay the $9,750 cost.

The recount was the first under a 1996 change in state law to allow the procedure in general elections. Before that, recounts were allowed only in primary elections.

Schade, several of her campaign volunteers and Rosso supporters watched election workers, checking their math.

"It's a little like watching grass grow," Schade said of the long hours.

County election workers spent 9.5 hours Friday, nearly 9 hours Saturday and nearly 11 hours yesterday examining each of 35,000 ballots from 39 precincts and absentee voters. In a first-floor storage room of a county office building on Ritchie Highway, they worked in teams of four with one person reading the votes aloud, two recording the votes with hash marks on a tally sheet and one watching.

Election workers from nine other counties and the state were present to help.

"It's a very stressful procedure because of the time frame and because you have two people's future at stake," said Barbara L. Fisher, the county election director. "I think we've done real well."

The campaign was the first for Rosso, an environmental and community activist.

Pub Date: 11/24/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.