Drop Box Insecurities

Elections by mail substantially increases risks

Many states offer mail in ballots for registered voters.  Some require the voter to request a ballot be mailed to them, like an absentee ballot. In Washington, we mail out over 5 million ballots around the world, there is no request required.  Voters can then return their ballot by mail, or at a drop box.  Drop box usage is the method used by most people within the state. 

Those overseas have more options, but for now I will focus on what is going on here within the state.  Let’s look at some of the drop box issues from the 2020 election across the state.

Chain of custody

Through records requests we obtained the logs or declarations which were filled out by the people who picked up ballots from the drop boxes.  We received these from several counties, including King County, Snohomish County, Pierce County, Thurston County, and a few others. 

First, let me explain a few things.  One important point is there should always be two people present for ballot pick-ups, therefore two signatures.  Two people should always be present when handling ballots during all stages of the election process.  Two people pick up ballots, two people verify and open the sealed boxes, two people for duplicating ballots, and so on.   This is to help prevent anyone from altering or disposing of anyone’s ballot.  Nobody should be allowed to handle ballots alone, or without someone watching.

The paper trail

To ensure there are two people present, the paperwork that is completed for many of the procedures require two signatures, to verify there were two people present.  In Snohomish County, we found several drop box pick up logs with only one signature. 


Equally disturbing, we found logs which had notes from the election workers referencing broken seals and evidence of tampering with the ballot drop boxes.  These include reports of the seals being broken upon arrival, seals laying on the ground, and several other problems we found documented within the records.

While it may look like a safe place to deposit your ballot, it lacks surveillance and security.  There also needs to be a better procedure for when the election workers show up and find a broken seal, or damaged lock.  We were not able to obtain any information or indication that these kinds of issues were reported anywhere else, beyond these logs.  If that is the case, it would appear there is no investigation into these crimes at the ballot drop box.

Drop box alternatives

We already explained why the post office delivering or even handling our ballots has risks, and now we are saying the drop boxes are not perfect either. So, what options do we have if both of those are not the best place to return our ballots? Simple. Drop your ballot off in person, at the county auditor’s office. That is where it goes to be counted anyway.

Hand-deliver your ballot to the front desk or use their drop box which is located inside the building. Their office is required to be open for in-person voting, and it is safer than a box which has no surveillance and is unmonitored.  The fact of the matter is these boxes are subject to tampering and security breaches. They can also be tools for people who have collected several ballots and need a way to turn them in without anyone noticing.

We don’t need to go along with or entertain their vote by mail preference. If you want to cast your vote safely, and eliminate the risk of the 3rd party delivery, then get up and go vote in person, or hand deliver your ballot. Maybe you can even stick around and watch as they count all the votes! We need eyes on this process!


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