Bruce Murphy
Back in The News

Report Finds Few Problems With Drop Boxes

No cases of fraud, vandalism or theft that could have affected 2020 election results.

By - Jul 18th, 2022 03:50 pm
A SafeVote dropbox. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A SafeVote dropbox. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

“The expanded use of drop boxes for mailed ballots during the 2020 election did not lead to any widespread problems, according to an Associated Press survey of state election officials across the U.S. that revealed no cases of fraud, vandalism or theft that could have affected the results.”

The story, reported yesterday, was based on a survey of every state that used absentee ballot drop boxes in 2020. Due to the pandemic, the use of drop boxes was greatly expanded in the U.S., with election officials considering them to be safe and secure. And that is exactly what the AP survey found. “The findings from both Republican- and Democratic-controlled states run contrary to claims made by former President Donald Trump and his allies who have intensely criticized their use and falsely claimed they were a target for fraud.”

That included Wisconsin, where the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission told the AP “it is not aware of any cases in 2020 in which drop boxes were damaged, had submitted ballots stolen or destroyed, or were used for fraudulent ballots.”

Republicans in this state had supported the use of drop boxes. About 60% of vote in November 2020 was absentee voting in Wisconsin, most of it by mail, but with 500 drop boxes across the state also used, as a report by the Wisconsin Elections Commission report found. The use of drop boxes in Wisconsin goes back years.

The City of Milwaukee began using 15 of those drop boxes in 2020, as Jeramey Jannene reported for Urban Milwaukee. “I am going to easily estimate that over 70 percent of the ballots are being returned via dropbox,” said Milwaukee Election Commission executive director Claire Woodall-Vogg. “They’re working really well.”

The drop boxes were secured to the ground and visible via cameras, and had a number of anti-tampering features, the story noted. “There have been no signs of anyone tampering with the ballot drop boxes,” Woodall-Vogg said. The boxes are so desirable that occasionally voters from other cities use them, she noted. “We immediately put” ballots from outside the city into the hands of the USPS, she said, in order to help return them “as quick as possible.”

The use of election drop boxes had been approved by the evenly split, bipartisan board of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, and was supported by the Legislature’s Republican leaders, as Wisconsin Public Radio reported. “We wholeheartedly support voters’ use of any of these convenient, secure, and expressly authorized absentee-ballot-return methods,” wrote attorney Misha Tseytlin representing Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and then-Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, in a letter to the Madison City Clerk.

But after his defeat in the 2020 election, Trump and his supporters filed lawsuits, all unsuccessful, objecting to the use of ballot drop boxes, as part of his unproven claim that the election was stolen from him. And since then Republicans in Wisconsin and nationally have increasingly attacked the use of drop boxes. The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty brought a lawsuit opposing them to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which ruled that ballot drop boxes were not allowed under state law and would put the state on the road to tyranny, as Urban Milwaukee’s Data Wonk noted.

“Arizona Assistant Secretary of State Allie Bones said drop boxes are ‘safe and secure’ and might even be considered more secure than Postal Service mailboxes,” the AP story reported. The story quoted two voters in Milwaukee who couldn’t understand the opposition to the drop boxes:

Kelly O’Keefe Boettcher of Milwaukee said she cast her ballot in a drop box in 2020 because of safety concerns during the pandemic and is upset that they’ll no longer be an option for her or for voters who are less able to get to the polls.

“’Drop boxes are accessible; they are egalitarian,’ she said. ‘To watch them go, I feel, people can say it’s not voter suppression. But it is.’

“‘Isn’t a mailbox a secure place to put a letter?’ asked Dave Wanninger, who with his wife used a ballot drop box in a Milwaukee public library in 2020. ‘Why would a drop box be any different?'”

2 thoughts on “Back in The News: Report Finds Few Problems With Drop Boxes”

  1. TransitRider says:

    In the article, somebody asked why a mail box isn’t secure, assuming that a drop box is as secure as a blue USPS mail box. Actually drop boxes like Milwaukee’s are MORE secure. There are numerous reports of people stealing mail from blue USPS mailboxes. (The thieves are usually are looking for checks or cash.)

  2. danlarsen7007 says:

    Again, the republicans propose a “solution” for a problem that is not there. In so doing, they are deliberately making the freedom of voting less accessible in hopes it will help them,

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