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Judge allows Maryland mail-in votes to be counted before Election Day

Judge allows Maryland mail-in votes to be counted before Election Day
Judge allows Maryland mail-in votes to be counted before Election Day 01:05

BALTIMORE -- A Maryland judge ruled that mail-in votes will be allowed to be counted before November's Election Day.

During the primary, state law required that all mail-in votes weren't counted until two days after Election Day, pushing certification of several key races for as long as weeks.

"The Maryland State Board of Elections (SBE) is pleased by the Court's decision, which will allow local elections officials across the State to begin canvassing mail-in ballots on October 1," the Maryland State Board of Elections said in a statement. "This ruling provides 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." 

Ballots to requesting military and overseas voters started Friday as required by federal law, and ballots to other requesting voters will be mailed next week. 

With mail-in votes allowed to be counted ahead of the election, results will likely be tabulated sooner.

"Thrilled and relieved that Judge Bonifant's thoughtful and well-reasoned ruling will allow for early counting of mail-in ballots, as requested by the @md_sbe!!!," Maryland Senator Cheryl Kagan wrote on social media.

More than half a million people requested mail ballots for the July Republican and Democratic primary elections. And at least 524,000 voters and counting have requested mail ballots for the fall general election, our partners with the Baltimore Banner reports.  

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he welcomes the ruling, and that "partisan legislators dropped the ball" on the state law in July.

"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," Hogan said. "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."

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