Appeals court hears Cox continued effort to halt early mail-in count

Oct 7, 2022

Capital News Service

The Court of Appeals of Maryland listened on Friday to the repeated effort by Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox to halt the early counting of mail-in ballots.

A lower court has already given the Maryland State Board of Elections permission to begin counting the ballots as early as Oct. 1. The board says it needs to begin counting earlier, so it can have the results of the election soon after the polls close Nov. 8 instead of weeks to a month later.

Cox’s claim that only the General Assembly can change the date for when the ballots can be counted was rejected weeks ago by the Montgomery County Circuit Court.

There is no time frame for when the court will issue an opinion.

Cox’s attorney, Ed Hartman, rehashed his previous arguments, that the need to change the date is not urgent, and only the General Assembly can legally make the change.

Hartman argued that the board should have foreseen the influx of mail-in ballots by looking at the large numbers that were cast during the July primary. The board could have prepared in various ways, he said, such as hiring more workers.

Assistant Attorney General Daniel Kobrin said the board’s emergency petition is valid because elections workers could not have anticipated the increase of mail-in ballots. Additionally, he said, officials do not have the space for more election workers and space to store the ballots until they typically would begin counting them Thursday after election day.

After the hearing, Cox claimed he does support early counting of votes, “but not without the safeguards and the adequate protections that the constitution and law mandates.”

Sen. Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery, was at the court and spoke to the media afterward. Kagan said if the court rules in Cox’s favor, there would not be enough time to certify the election results before the governor and other legislative officials are scheduled to take office.

“Dan Cox is ignoring the reality that on December 5, people need to be sworn in, and based on the primary election, we may not have election results by then,” she said.