Dan Cox addresses the press after court hearings last month with his lawyers, Ed Hartman and Matthew Wilson. Credit: Ginny Bixby

The Maryland Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court’s decision to allow the Maryland State Board of Elections to continue to canvass mail-in ballots prior to the Nov. 8 general election.

After hearing arguments Friday, Judge Matthew Fader ruled in favor of the state elections board’s petition to start processing ballots early. While the petition was granted by a Montgomery Circuit Court judge last month, Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox has continued to challenge the decision, appealing it all the way to Maryland’s highest court.

Fader’s opinion was not available at press time.

Last week, a Maryland Court of Special Appeals judge denied Cox’s request for a pause on ballot processing. This allowed local boards of elections to begin canvassing ballots Oct. 1.

The state elections board had filed a petition to the Circuit Court to suspend a state law that prohibits the opening of mail-in ballots before the Wednesday after an election. The state elections board petitioned for the exception after jurisdictions received an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots during the July primary election, which resulted in weeks of ballot canvassing. About 75,000 mail-in ballots were counted in Montgomery County alone. The state elections board predicts more than 1 million mail-in ballots will be submitted in Maryland in the general election.

Cox filed a challenge to the state elections board’s petition, with his counsel arguing in a hearing last month that an increase in mail-in ballots does not constitute an emergency as claimed by the state because more voters started using mail-in ballots after the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 and therefore it is not a new practice.