The counting of mail-in ballots for the November election can begin on Oct. 1 across Maryland Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge James Bonifant ruled Friday.
Governor Larry Hogan issued the following statement about the decision:
“We welcome Judge Bonifant’s decision allowing the State Board of Elections to institute early canvassing for the general election, as I did in 2020 during the pandemic. It worked well in that election, 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.”
The Judge's opinion dismissed an argument from Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox, who argued during a hearing earlier this week that such a move would violate the separation of powers established in the state constitution. Cox’s attorney also argued the situation did not constitute an emergency.
State lawmakers attempted to rectify the situation ahead of the July primary, passing a bill that would have permitted counting to begin in advance provided that results are embargoed until Election Day. Hogan vetoed the bill in May. At that time he said he supported the canvassing change, but objected to other elements of the legislation dealing with election security.