Don’t be fooled by the locks that they got: Election officials clear up ballot drop-off box confusion

Ballot drop boxes are an easy way to make sure your vote is counted, but there’s apparently been some confusion about which boxes are accepting ballots due to the placement of a padlock near the slot into which ballots are deposited.

The Maryland Board of Elections wants you to know: These drop-off boxes are open.

“It has come to our attention that some voters, upon seeing locks on ballot boxes, have assumed the boxes are closed,” Maryland Election Administrator Linda Lamone said in a statement. “This is not the case. Ballots should be inserted in the slot located above the lock as indicated by red arrows.”

The padlock is actually there to keep the slot open for voters to drop off ballots, Lamone said.


Ballot drop boxes that have already been installed in Maryland will never be closed or locked, and remain open through Election Day, which is Nov. 3, at 8 p.m. That means voters can drop ballots off anytime at one of the boxes.

The Maryland State Board of Elections released this photo showing a ballot being deposited in a drop-off box. The padlock underneath the slot is apparently confusing some voters as to whether the box is accepting ballots. (Courtesy Maryland State Board of Elections)

You can find a list of drop-off boxes throughout Maryland here.

All told, there are slated to be 284 drop-off boxes across the state, with at least two in each county. Montgomery County will have 50 boxes, and Prince George’s County has 32.

Most ballot drop-off boxes in Maryland have been installed. However, a handful are set to open later this week.

If you are dropping off a ballot, make sure it’s sealed in the envelope you received in the mail. The boxes are under close surveillance around-the-clock and emptied daily by election officials.

In D.C., there are 55 ballot drop-off boxes across all eight wards.

The District’s drop-off boxes are produced by the same company as Maryland’s, and also have a padlock near the ballot slot that keeps the slot in an open position.

You can see a list of ballot drop-off boxes in D.C. here.

WTOP’s Jack Moore contributed to this report.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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