RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Voters in Virginia can drop off their ballots inside designated boxes set up in their districts after state lawmakers approved a temporary change aimed at easing the voting process during the coronavirus pandemic, giving residents who may be concerned with mailing in their ballot another option for the election.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) signed legislation in early September to allow localities to have ballot drop boxes inside and outside local registrar’s offices, at satellite voting sites and polling locations on Election Day.
Before the measure was passed, Virginia Democrats stressed that the boxes would provide a secure alternative for voters to drop off their ballots without having to mail them or going to the post office while Republican lawmakers argued that the drop boxes could create opportunities for voter fraud.
The Virginia Department of Elections provided guidance for drop off boxes that local election officials must follow, including security procedures, recordkeeping and chain of custody requirements.
The standards, which were provided to 8News, state that localities can decide whether to have a secure drop box or one monitored by a staff member. Secure drop boxes “must be constructed of durable material able to withstand vandalism, removal, and inclement weather, and be securely fastened to prevent moving or tampering” and a video surveillance system must monitor them.
“Staffed locations do not need to use a drop box, and instead may have ballots placed into either 1) a container placed behind a counter; or 2) a portable container that can be transported to a curbside or mobile voting area,” according to the guidelines from the department.
Absentee ballots dropped off inside the boxes will be collected at least twice a day “by two officers of election representing the two major political parties.”
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