Is your ballot box the imposter?


"Absentee Voting Night" by U.S. Embassy Montevideo is marked under CC PDM 1.0. To view the terms, visit

Using ballot drop-boxes is one option for voting in the upcoming election.

Even ballot boxes are dressing up this Halloween. The state of California was worried about the safety of their ballot envelopes already, when unauthorized ballot boxes popped up in four southern counties on Tuesday, October 13th.

As November 3rd approaches, voting safely amid a global pandemic has been a frequent topic of debate. Many voters are increasingly concerned about crowded polling places and infection rates. Pictures from a voting center in Georgia show lines snaking around the building. Interviews from the voting location revealed some voters had waited in line for 8+ hours.

This has obviously raised safety concerns, which explain the large push for mail-in ballots this voting cycle. 

Some states are making it easier than ever to vote without risking a COVID-19 infection. Thirty-five states are allowing voters to cite COVID-19 as their reasoning to vote absentee. Nine states, including New Jersey, Colorado, and California, are automatically mailing out ballots to every registered voter. These ballots can be mailed back or returned at official boxes. 

Polling statistics show that we should expect an extremely high voter turnout this year, which was already addressed by the USPS back in May. The press release, issued on May 29th of this year, advised voters to mail their ballot at least a week before the actual voting deadline to account for delivery times and contingencies. 

The other option for these ballots, returning the envelopes at drop boxes, has raised a stir in Southern California. At least four Southern California counties holding House elections this year reported unofficial ballot boxes at specific locations in their county. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that these boxes were placed by the California Republican Party.

The Party stated the boxes were an effort to increase voter turnout, and collect and return people’s ballots to election officials. The legality of this purpose isn’t entirely clear. 

Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State, issued a memo explaining that he believes the action of the California Republicans violates California state laws on ballot harvesting. His office stated in this memo that the only persons permitted to establish voting boxes are election officials, which is not a category that includes political parties.

Padilla explains that although voters may designate a person to bring their individual ballot to an official box, an unidentified collector eliminates this safeguard against tampering with ballots, which is classified as voter fraud. 

California’s governor, along with Padilla and California’s attorney general, issued a cease-and-desist letter, ordering the boxes to be removed by Thursday.

The incident has raised alarm among American candidates and voters alike, raising the imperative question: how do I know my vote will be counted after checking the box?

USA Today has an excellent guide here with all the facts and steps to make sure your mail-in ballot isn’t rejected. Click here to check it out.