In what could be a game-changing decision, a Maryland judge has just ruled that mail-in votes can be counted before election day despite a state law saying otherwise.
According to The Epoch Times, Circuit Judge James Bonifant said last Friday this change was needed as another law requires results to be verified within 10 days after an election, something the large volume of mail-in ballots would make impossible to do.
Judges cites high volume of mail-in ballots
Bonifant argued that “the full extent of the difficult situation caused by so many mail-in ballots did not materialize until the primary election occurred this past summer.”
“This Court does not believe it is violating the State Constitution by granting the State Board’s requested relief,” he added.
“To the contrary, the Court believes it is exercising the powers granted to it under the Constitution to decide a case between competing parties who have different views on the interpretation of the law,” Bonifant concluded.
The Times noted that Republican state lawmaker and gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox intervened in the case. While Cox’s campaign did not provide a comment to the Times, one of his lawyers did speak with the Baltimore Sun.
“We are very impressed with Judge Bonifant’s thoughtfulness and the care that he gave this ruling,” the attorney said, adding, “Some very interesting legal questions arose.”
Both the Maryland State Board of Elections along with Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan expressed support for Bonifant’s decision.
“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,” a statement released by the board read.
“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,” the statement went on to insist.
Governor says “partisan legislators dropped the ball”
Meanwhile, the Times quoted Hogan as complaining that although early canvassing had worked during the COVID-19 pandemic, “partisan legislators dropped the ball on adopting our successful approach, making this step necessary.”
Also expressing support for Bonifant’s ruling was Democratic state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, who voiced her thoughts in a tweet.
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!!!
— Cheryl C. Kagan (@CherylKagan) September 23, 2022