Maryland Court of Appeals upholds decision to allow early counting of mail-in ballots

Oct. 18, 2022, 5 p.m. | By Alexander Liu | 1 year, 8 months ago

The decision was previously made in the Montgomery County Circuit Court

On Oct. 7, the Maryland Court of Appeals (MCA) affirmed a previous decision by the Montgomery County Circuit Court (MCCC) to allow the early canvassing and counting of mail-in ballots before the Nov. 8 general election. The original decision by the MCCC from last month was followed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox’s persistent appeal of the decision. 

Prior to the MCCC decision, election laws in Maryland prevented the early opening of mail-in ballots. As the Maryland Code states, “A local board may not open any envelope of an absentee ballot prior to 8 a.m. on the Wednesday following election day.” 

On Sept. 2, the Maryland State Board of Elections (MBOE) filed a lawsuit to allow canvassing and counting of ballots for the Maryland general election to start early on Oct. 1. The board argued that the higher-than-expected number of mail-in ballots during the July primary election counted as an “emergency." 

On Sept. 23, the MCCC granted the emergency relief request to the MBOE petition. Subsequently, on Sept. 27, Cox appealed the decision. Cox’s attorney argued that the requested relief from the law should not have been granted, as the increase in votes did not constitute an emergency that would call for judicial intervention. 

In response, the MBOE’s attorney argued instead that the board was seeking relief in order to count the ballots in a more effective and organized manner. After hearing both arguments, the MCA affirmed the lower court’s decision, allowing for local boards to begin canvassing efforts. 

The Maryland general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 8. 

Last updated: Oct. 18, 2022, 6:23 p.m.

Alexander Liu. Hi, I'm Alex (he/him) and I'll be a staff writer for SCO this year. I'm passionate about public policy and international relations. In my free time, I enjoy drawing and watching terrible rom-coms. More »

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