Md. Board of Elections Seeks to Begin Canvassing Mailed Ballots Before Election Day

The Maryland Board of Elections has voted to file an emergency petition in a circuit court for approval to canvass mail-in ballots before Election Day.

The petition would also require that any results of pre- Election Day canvassing be withheld until after the polls close.

Board members said Monday that the recent Maryland primary  as well as the expected expansion of mail-in balloting show that the inability of local boards to start canvassing mailed ballots before Election Day could have significant implications. Results of a November election may not be certified until late December or early January under the current requirements that prohibit processing of any mailed ballots before Election Day.

The board plans to file the petition in a circuit court with sufficient time for the court to consider the request and for the local boards of elections to plan for pre-Election Day canvassing.

“SBE carries the burden of proving to the court that emergency circumstances that interfere with the electoral process require a remedy that is in the public interest and protects the integrity of the electoral process,” according to a statement from the Maryland Board of Elections. “If SBE makes that showing, the court has the authority to grant any action the court considers necessary. If not, the petition is denied.”