Last Friday, the City of Madison clerk’s office unveiled fourteen ballot dropboxes for the election. The ballot dropboxes are part of the city’s drive to allow for a variety of ways to vote.
Over 100,000 absentee ballots have been issued by the City of Madison, as of last night. Of that number, about 75 percent have been returned to be counted.
But for Madison voters who have yet to mail back their absentee ballots, new blue ballot dropboxes scattered throughout the city are another way to return them.
The new boxes are another way that voters can make sure their ballots make it into the hands of election officials without breaking social distancing during the pandemic. Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl says the dropboxes were prompted by this unusual election cycle.
“We’ve been hearing from a lot of voters who, due to comments made at the national level and news reports about the postal service, were not comfortable putting their ballot back in the mail and wanted a contact-free way to return their absentees. So we ordered drop-boxes for a contact-free ballot return method,” she said.
The dropboxes are installed at thirteen fire stations throughout the city, and at Elver Park shelter. They’re made with steel a quarter inch thick, and have welded seams to eliminate tampering. The boxes cost approximately $53,000. Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway explained on Monday how the clerk’s office came up with the money.
“We got a 1.3 million dollar grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life to assist us with putting on a healthy safe and secure election during the covid-19 pandemic. And that grant has gone to cover costs like the drop boxes, and the additional costs for printing and mailing absentee ballots.”
Several weeks ago, conservative group Wisconsin Voters Alliance filed a lawsuit seeking to block the funds to Madison and four other Wisconsin cities, claiming the funds amounted to bribery to boost voting in communities that lean heavily Democratic.
But US District Judge William Griesbach, a George W. Bush appointee, refused to enjoin the use of the funds. He said that the Wisconsin Voters Alliance had “failed to show a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits.”
The boxes will be open until 5pm on November 2nd, the day before the election. Voters can also drop off their absentee ballot at the Madison Clerk’s office, or at their polling place on election day. To find a map of locations, head to the City of Madison Clerk’s Office.