Absentee Ballot Counts Confirm Del. Smigiel Still Lagging, Loser of Dist 36 Seat in Annapolis
Absentee ballot counts in state District 36 on Thursday confirm that incumbent Republican Del. Michael Smigiel of Cecil County is going down to defeat, just as it was indicated on election night, to a Caroline County candidate, Jeff Ghrist, in the Republican primary election.
Newly updated vote tallies in the four counties of the 36th district show that Smigiel lacked adequate support of area voters, especially in his Cecil County home base.
Indeed, Smigiel is the only major candidate in the four-county District 36 to lose, and by a substantial margin, his home county. After vote counts of early voting, election day, and first absentee ballot tallies counted on 6/26/14, Smigiel ended up in third place in his home Cecil County.
The 36th District covers four counties—parts of Cecil and Caroline counties and all of Kent and Queen Anne’s counties—but only provides three seats in the General Assembly in Annapolis. As a result, one county will be without a “resident” delegate, which for 20 years has been Caroline County.
But the initial results of the GOP primary elections show that incumbent Cecil County Republican Smigiel has fallen so short in voter support in the district that Caroline County is likely to obtain the third seat in the legislative district. That would mean Cecil County would not have a local delegate in Annapolis from the 36th District, although the county would have three area representatives in District 35 that covers the Elkton area and western areas of the county.
Local elections boards in the four counties of the 36th District counted absentee ballots that had been returned to them by 6/25/14 on Thursday. Three counties readily supplied those tallies to the press, while the Queen Anne’s County local elections director refused to do so. Cecil Times contacted the director of the State Board of Elections to obtain the results for Queen Anne’s County.
In Queen Anne’s county, the absentee ballots counted on Thursday 6/26/14 gave Smigiel an extra 19 votes while Ghrist of Caroline County got another 17 votes—a net favor of 2 votes for Smigiel. But in Grist’s home base of Caroline County, the absentee ballots gave him an extra 9 votes while Smigiel got 4 votes, for a net gain of 5 for Ghrist.
In Kent County, Ghrist picked up 4 absentee ballots while Smigiel drew 12 supporters, for a net gain of 8 votes for Smigiel.
But in Cecil County, the absentee ballots showed he continued to trail well behind the front-leader Dr. Alan McCarthy, a Cecil County Council member who held the local majority of all candidates running in Cecil County for the Dist. 36 delegate seat.
The updated Cecil County vote count showed McCarthy with a total of early voting, election day and initial absentee ballots count totaling 1,165—or 22.7 percent of the total—while Kent County delegate Jay Jacobs came in second with 1,108 or 19.68 percent of the vote. Smigiel ended up in third place in his home county, with a total of 985 votes or 19.23 percent. (In the absentee ballots, McCarthy picked up another 17 votes.)
In Caroline County—Ghrist’s home base—the absentee ballots added 9 votes to his tally while Smigiel got four votes—for a net gain by Ghrist of 5 votes.
On election night, only 142 votes put Ghrist ahead of Smigiel in the Dist. 36 Republican primary– and state election board records show there were only 141 Republican absentee ballots returned for Dist. 36 voters by the day after the election. (Overseas and military voters have more time to return ballots but state records show there were only a handful of GOP voters in that category in Dist. 36). Thus, Smigiel would have to garner the votes of virtually all of the absentees to win re-election and the initial counts of absentees on Thursday 6/26/14 show he fell far short.
So, on a county by county basis, the GOP primary returns in Dist. 36 so far—including early voting, election day, and the first absentee ballot count on Thursday show:
–Queen Anne’s: Ghrist, 2,182; Smigiel, 2,098
–Cecil County: Ghrist, 400; Smigiel, 985
–Kent County: Ghrist, 316; Smigiel, 596
–Caroline County: Ghrist, 1,369; Smigiel, 455
So that gives Ghrist 4,267, to Smigiel’s 4,134, for a difference of 133 votes—or 16.9 percent of the votes for Ghrist to 16.4 percent for Smigiel.
Meanwhile, some gun rights advocates—who strongly supported Smigiel—questioned why he seemed to be complacent about the crowded Cecil County primary for his seat and whether he miscalculated and dismissed the depth of his opposition in his home county.
The “Maryland Shooters” online group which has strongly supported Smigiel in the past provided an interesting array of commentary since the Tuesday election, with several residents of the 36th District complaining that Smigiel seemed to take for granted his home base.
“In Caroline County he has had ZERO presence his entire time in office,” wrote an Eastern Shore resident. “I’m a big supporter of Mike but you gotta make an effort.”
“He didn’t do well in his home county, that is a sin,” wrote Shore Shooter.
And “AK by the bay” wrote that he was a resident of the district who voted for Smigiel, but concluded that “he ran a terrible campaign, and alienated (and lost) his home county in two consecutive elections. Had he simply won his own county he would still be a delegate.”