Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Replacing Ballot Drop Boxes

New "Fort Knox" boxes offer security and weatherization improvements

By - Oct 26th, 2020 11:06 am
Ballot drop boxes, permanent boxes in left two images. Photos from Milwaukee Election Commission and Jeramey Jannene.

Ballot drop boxes, permanent boxes in left two images. Photos from Milwaukee Election Commission and Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee Election Commission will swap out its secured ballot drop boxes this week as part of a planned upgrade.

The temporary boxes were installed in early September at 15 locations throughout the city, including each of the city’s branch libraries. Under around-the-clock video surveillance, the drop boxes are emptied daily by a team of two individuals who place the ballots into a locked bag.

The new permanent boxes weigh over 300 pounds each. Made by Oregon-based Fort Knox Mailbox, the boxes will be anchored to the ground with concrete and bolts. The company’s slogan is “built like a tank.” Intended to remain years past the current election, the boxes include undisclosed security improvements and weatherization improvements.

City Election Commission executive director Claire Woodall-Vogg said the boxes also include a key election accountability and transparency upgrade — a lockable door. When polls close at 8 p.m. an employee will lock the box, preventing additional ballots from being inserted.

Woodall-Vogg warned a council committee in September that the permanent boxes were delayed, in part due to the wildfires in Oregon. Given the delay, she said, “I am really glad I ordered” the temporary boxes. A press release issued Monday by the commission cites pandemic-related shipping delays and a surge in demand as additional reasons for the delay.

Tampering with ballots is a felony. Should any ballots be damaged and the sender not identified, the city would notify the public of the time window and location of the drop box that was damaged. Under Wisconsin law, ballots can be reissued and the original ballot voided.

Fort Knox promotes a “drop out design” for its boxes that routes any water and sand poured into the drop-off slot away from the ballots.

To prevent wear and tear, the boxes will be covered and locked when an election isn’t underway.

The first of the new boxes has already been installed outside of the election commission warehouse at 1901 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Additional drop boxes are available at each Milwaukee Public Library in the city as well on the east side of City Hall.

City of Milwaukee absentee ballots can be placed in any of the drop boxes at any time until polls close at 8:00 p.m. on November 3rd.

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More about the 2020 General Election

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Categories: Politics

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