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Thinking about Elections

Do We Need More Ballot Drop Boxes?
By Juliet Zavon
Posted on 10/16/2021 7:52 PM

DO WE NEED MORE BALLOT DROP BOXES and voting centers before election day? A friend asked what I thought about an advocacy group’s demands for these. I responded that the same point had been raised at a Board of Elections meeting before the May primary. 


It’s a cost issue. Operating an early vote center for one weekend before the November 2020 election cost $40,000 if I remember correctly. In any event, it was not cheap. How many weekends and locations are they asking for? How many are “enough”? And secure drop boxes for outdoor installation can cost in the $1000-3500 range. Again, how many?


More voting infrastructure is especially important in a high-turnout election, but, alas, turnout next month will be much lower than in a presidential election. 


Does the elections office have budget for drop boxes and voting centers? If they had, say, $50,000 extra to improve conducting the election next month where is the need/benefit the greatest? Is it drop boxes and voting centers or cyber security? Upgrading back office operations and hiring more staff? Poll worker recruitment and training? Re-doing their clunky difficult-to-navigate website? Reorganizing mail ballot counting so independent monitors can actually see how each mail ballot is processed, not just observe activity going on from afar? 


Or maybe the biggest need/benefit would be a program open to all to show how elections are actually conducted behind the scenes and what makes them secure—voter registration and maintenance, why dead people can’t vote, etc. “Show and tell” to dispel misinformation with real information. Call this program “Elections 101” and invite journalists, civic organizations, and ordinary citizens. Some states and counties do this. Too bad ours isn’t among them.


Read a short guide to election drop boxes at this link.