Montgomery, Pr. George’s counties ask Md. for more ballot ‘drop boxes’ ahead of Nov. election

In an increasingly abnormal election year, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are asking Maryland election officials to supply dozens more drop-off boxes for voters to submit absentee ballots, bypassing the U.S. Postal Service.

During a normal election, Montgomery County would only have two or three drop boxes for ballots — but according to The Washington Post, the county is requesting at least 40 boxes for the November general election, while neighboring Prince George’s County requested 36 more than usual.

Jim Shalleck, president of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said the changes were “directly generated by the news and public discourse about the slowdown of the mail.”

Information about the exact locations of the Maryland boxes is expected to be released to voters soon. Election officials in D.C. said they will have at least 50 drop box locations that have already been listed online.

Virginia law does not currently permit ballot drop boxes, but Gov. Ralph Northam is pushing for a change to the rules as state lawmakers enter a special legislative session.

Similar measures have worked elsewhere: Oregon, Colorado and Washington state have had success with boxes in the recent past, and all three are seeking to expand their use because of the coronavirus outbreak and concerns about the Postal Service’s ability to fulfill mail deliveries on time.

Last week, the Postal Service — having cut overtime and late deliveries — began warning states that it could not guarantee all mail ballots will be received in time to be counted.

Election officials in some states have come out against adding drop boxes, saying doing so would be too costly, raises security concerns or would violate state laws.

Typical security measures for drop boxes include video surveillance, locks, tamper-resistant seals and chain-of-custody logs that are completed each time ballots are collected.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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