The year 2020, in its abundant mercy and generosity, will soon deliver to the American people a welcome respite of stability in this chaotic year of elections: Election Day. The “Time of chusing” remains “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November” (for Congress as well as for the Presidential electors), and so, as is tradition, Americans eagerly wait for an early November day and the first bite of election results.

But below the surface of the stillness that precedes Election Day, canvassing operations around the country are churning through mail-in ballots. With still two weeks to go, many states have already begun counting votes-by-mail. Maryland’s local canvassing operations got the green light on October 1st, the earliest of any state, in order to handle the mail-in ballots from the 48% of its electorate that planned on using them in light of the pandemic. As of October 20th, the deadline for ballot requests, Marylanders had asked for 1.63 million mail-in ballots and voters had “cast” roughly 696,000 of those, returning them to local boards of elections by hand, mail, or through one of the state’s 283 drop boxes.

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