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Drop boxes — special containers for voters to drop off absentee ballots in sealed envelopes — have become more commonplace in the last decade, and are an efficient and secure way to return your ballot while entirely skipping the mail process. Those monitored by surveillance cameras are often available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, while others that are monitored by election workers have specified hours of operation.
Boxes are often placed in convenient and accessible locations, including city or county office buildings, libraries, college campuses, community centers and along public transit routes.
Eleven states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington — have ballot drop boxes set up in some or all counties, NCSL says.
The EAC recommends counties install one drop box for every 15,000 to 20,000 registered voters. It also advises that officials make the locations of these drop boxes publicly known 80 days before an election — which is Saturday, August 15.
The number of drop boxes varies widely by state. Michigan says that it has nearly 1,000 drop boxes ready to go ahead of the election, and Connecticut recently installed around 200 drop boxes just one month before its primary election.
But Ohio's Secretary of State Frank LaRose said this week that he is banning counties from adding any more drop boxes, saying its too close to the election to make new changes. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said his state does not allow drop boxes for fear voters may feel pressured by peers to vote a certain way.
In June, President Trump and the RNC sued election officials in Pennsylvania to prevent the state from using drop boxes. This week, a federal judge ordered them to provide evidence of vote-by-mail fraud in the state.
Typically, election officials need to receive absentee/mailed ballots by the time polls close on Election Day, November 3. Some states accept ballots received after this date if they were postmarked before the election.
Check with your local election office to figure out which option is best for you.