MD High Court Upholds Early Processing, Tabulating of Mail-In Ballots

Last week, the Maryland Court of Appeals affirmed a Circuit Court of Montgomery County ruling allowing local boards of elections can start processing and tabulating mail-in ballots for the November election before the polls close on election day — which is essential for reporting timely results.

As more voters opt to cast mail-in ballots, local boards require flexibility to meet critical certification deadlines and provide meaningful results after the polls close on election day. The order, issued by Chief Judge Matthew J. Fader, allows local boards to open envelopes, canvass, and tabulate mail-in ballots before election day.

As previously reported on Conduit Street, Governor Hogan vetoed emergency legislation to provide local boards of elections with necessary and reasonable flexibility to canvass mail-in ballots, which led to delays in processing an unprecedented number of mail-in votes during July’s Primary Election.

As a result, the Maryland State Board of Elections filed a petition to suspend a state law that prohibits opening any mail-in ballot envelope before the Wednesday after an election and instead allow local election boards to begin processing mail ballots on October 1.

The Maryland State Board of Elections issued the following statement on the Court of Appeals ruling:

The Maryland State Board of Elections (SBE) is pleased the Court of Appeals has upheld the Circuit Court’s ruling to permit local elections officials to begin statewide canvassing of mail-in ballots prior to Election Day. This decision will be instrumental in assisting local election officials complete the timely canvassing and tabulation of these ballots and meet all relevant statutory deadlines.

Over 26 percent of eligible voters voted in the 2022 Primary Election. a higher turnout than three of the last four gubernatorial primary elections. In addition, most Marylanders voted in person (65 percent), with 47 percent of total votes cast on election day and 17 percent during early voting.

Before the 2020 elections, turnout by mail was around 6-8 percent of the total turnout. About 35 percent of voters who voted in the 2022 Primary Election voted by mail. Nearly 500,000 voters requested a mail-in ballot, and almost 70 percent of those sent were voted and returned.

Maryland’s Gubernatorial General Election is on November 8, 2022.

To vote in the 2022 Election, you must be registered to vote. To learn more about who can register to vote, click here.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

Court Approves Early Processing, Tabulating of Mail-In Ballots

State Board of Elections to Ask Circuit Court for Earlier Processing of Mail-In Ballots

2022 County Primary Election Results – MACo Summary

Hogan Veto Jeopardizes Timely Election Results

Senator Kagan Calls for State of Emergency to Address Election Vetoes