FREDERICK, Md. (DC News Now) — A confrontation is brewing between Republican Dan Cox and the Maryland Board of Elections.

The Maryland GOP gubernatorial candidate for governor told DC News Now in an exclusive interview that is he is strongly considering legal action to prevent a circuit court to allow state election officials to count mail-in ballots earlier than Election Day.

State election officials say that they need to begin counting mail-in ballots much earlier than Election Day or else results in important races up and down the ballot could take several weeks to count given the surge in people not voting in person due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cox, who is facing Democrat Wes Moore for the state’s top post in November, said it is a constitutional issue and one that only the state legislature should decide.

“I think the issue before Maryland is are we going to follow the rule of law which says that the Constitution is the path that we have to follow for all elections or are we going to deviate from that and start using the tool of the courts every time somebody wants to change something that the legislature said no to,” Cox said.

It is the legislature’s job, the Frederick delegate said, to regulate when and how mail-in ballots should be counted.

“They’ve decided to file this now. Now they’re alleging substantive issues, which are completely secondary to the primary issues of law,” he said. “Why are we going to change the law by emergency means during an election? And I have concerns about that.”

At present, mail-in ballots cannot be counted until two days after Election Day, which prompted significant delays in deciding election primary victors around the state including in the Montgomery County executive race.

A bill passed by the General Assembly earlier this year would have allowed for the early counting but Gov. Larry Hogan, who has been a frequent critic of Cox for his belief that the 2020 presidential election may have been stolen from Donald Trump, vetoed the measure. The governor cited election integrity concerns as his rationale.

Nikki Charlson, a spokeswoman for the election board, said officials do not comment on pending litigation.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Bonifant is expected to hear the case next week and could have a decision as early as Friday, Sept. 23rd.

The Moore campaign referred questions to the state Democratic Party which lambasted Cox for opposing something that would make the election process smoother.

“Maryland is literally the only state in the nation where election officials are prohibited from processing ballots already sent in by mail prior to Election Day. Instead of supporting the common-sense reform endorsed by the current Republican governor, Cox continues to undermine our electoral process,” said state Democratic Party spokesman Ernest Bailey.

“For Cox, January 6th wasn’t just a day, it was the start of an anti-election, anti-democracy era,” he added. “What really threatens confidence in elections is self-serving conspiracy theorists like Dan Cox and Donald Trump who still falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen.”

Cox said he has attorneys looking at the issue and a decision will be made soon.

When asked if he trusts the state election board, Cox said it’s about “trusting the Constitution.”

“Do they trust the Constitution of Maryland and the laws of the people,” he said. “If they don’t, why are they in office? They should resign.”