Judge Rules Maryland Can Start Counting Mail-In Ballots Oct. 1

September 23, 2022 by Dan McCue
Judge Rules Maryland Can Start Counting Mail-In Ballots Oct. 1
A woman drops a ballot into a drop box while casting her vote during Maryland's primary election, Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Board of Elections officials across the state of Maryland can begin counting mail-in ballots for the November election on Oct. 1, a state circuit court judge ruled on Friday.

The Maryland State Board of Elections had filed a petition asking for emergency authorization to begin counting earlier than state law allows in the hope of avoiding a duplication of the delays the state experienced after the July primary.

Ruling from the bench, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Bonifant rejected an argument raised by Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox, who said during a hearing earlier this week that deciding in favor of the board of elections would violate the separation of powers established in the state constitution. 

He also maintained the situation did not constitute an emergency. In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state did institute early canvasing to deal with the deluge of absentee ballots that year.


Maryland elections officials had sought the ability to start counting early after being surprised that a total 499,300 people requested mail-in ballots for the July 19 primaries.

Of those, 213,000 were returned prior to primary day, which left an untold number of the 286,300 remaining waiting to be counted. In Maryland, mail-in ballots are considered valid up to 10 days after an election so long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

In a joint statement, the Maryland State Board of Elections said the ruling would provide election officials with additional time to canvass and tabulate these ballots to ensure that all critical election-related deadlines established by law are met. 


“It also enables elections officials to return to a well-established process of canvassing mail-in ballots prior to Election Day, which was allowed in the 2020 general election,” it said.

“SBE looks forward to working with the local boards of elections to resume best practices for the timely canvassing of mail-in ballots. Ballots to requesting military and overseas voters started today as required by federal law, and ballots to other requesting voters will be mailed next week. 

“Pre-Election Day canvassing will be conducted in public on published dates. The results of pre-election canvasses will be withheld until the polls close on Election Day,” the statement said.

After the decision was announced, outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan also said he welcomed Judge Bonifant’s decision.

Hogan noted that early counting of mail-in ballots worked well in 2020, “but partisan legislators dropped the ball on adopting our successful approach, making this step necessary.”


“We thank the court for acting swiftly, and encourage Marylanders to take part in the electoral process, make sure their registration is up to date, and consider volunteering to serve as an election judge,” Hogan said.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

In The States

October 5, 2022
by Dan McCue
Florida Officials Still Trying to Determine Way Forward After Ian

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With the clock ticking ever closer to Election Day, Florida election officials are continuing to tally damage... Read More

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — With the clock ticking ever closer to Election Day, Florida election officials are continuing to tally damage and disruption assessments due to Hurricane Ian and charting a course to a fair and secure election. In an email to The Well News, Leon County... Read More

October 4, 2022
by Dan McCue
Conservative Justices Appear Inclined to Further Narrowing of Voting Rights Act

WASHINGTON — After nearly two hours of oral argument on Tuesday, a number of conservative justices on the Supreme Court... Read More

WASHINGTON — After nearly two hours of oral argument on Tuesday, a number of conservative justices on the Supreme Court appeared to be sympathetic to Alabama’s request that key provisions of the Voting Rights Act be narrowed when it comes to the lawfulness of electoral maps.... Read More

Arizona Clinic Has Workaround for Abortion Pill Ban

PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix abortion clinic has come up with a way for patients who can end their pregnancy... Read More

PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix abortion clinic has come up with a way for patients who can end their pregnancy using a pill to get the medication quickly without running afoul of a resurrected Arizona law that bans most abortions. Under the arrangement that began Monday,... Read More

Herschel Walker Paid for Girlfriend's Abortion, Report Says

DUNWOODY, Ga. (AP) — Herschel Walker, who has vehemently opposed abortion rights as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia,... Read More

DUNWOODY, Ga. (AP) — Herschel Walker, who has vehemently opposed abortion rights as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia, paid for an abortion for his girlfriend in 2009, according to a new report published late Monday. The candidate called the accusation a “flat-out lie” and said he... Read More

October 3, 2022
by Dan McCue
Youngkin Releases ‘All-of-the-Above’ State Energy Plan for Virginia

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin unveiled his “2022 Energy Plan” for the state on Monday, adopting an “all-of-the-above”... Read More

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin unveiled his “2022 Energy Plan” for the state on Monday, adopting an “all-of-the-above” approach that includes natural gas, renewable energy, hydrogen and, most notably, nuclear power to meet the state's current and future energy needs. He went on to... Read More

October 3, 2022
by Dan McCue
Solicitor General’s Input Sought on Climate Suits Against Energy Companies

WASHINGTON —The Supreme Court on Monday asked the solicitor general’s office to weigh in on a dispute over which courts... Read More

WASHINGTON —The Supreme Court on Monday asked the solicitor general’s office to weigh in on a dispute over which courts — state or federal — can hear climate litigation against fossil fuel companies. The request comes as the justices consider whether to review a 10th U.S.... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top