States Report No Fraud in 2020 Use of Drop Boxes

Survey findings counter unproven claims of stolen ballots
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 17, 2022 12:15 PM CDT
States Report No Fraud in 2020 Use of Drop Boxes
A voter submits a ballot in an official drop box during early voting in Athens, Ga., in October 2020.   (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

The expanded use of drop boxes for mailed ballots during the 2020 election did not lead to any widespread problems, according to an AP survey of state election officials across the US that revealed no cases of fraud, vandalism, or theft that could have affected the results. The findings from both Republican- and Democratic-controlled states run contrary to claims made by former President Donald Trump and his allies, who have intensely criticized their use and falsely claimed they were a target for fraud, the AP reports. Drop boxes are considered by many election officials to be safe and secure, and have been used to varying degrees by states across the political spectrum. Yet conspiracy theories and efforts by Republicans to eliminate or restrict them since the 2020 election persist.

This month, the conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that drop boxes are not allowed under state law and can no longer be widely used. Drop boxes also are a focal point of the film 2,000 Mules, which used a flawed analysis of cellphone location data and ballot drop box surveillance footage to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election. In response to the legislation and conspiracy theories surrounding drop boxes, the AP sent a survey in May to the top elections office in each state seeking information about whether the boxes were tied to fraudulent votes or stolen ballots, or whether the boxes and the ballots they contained were damaged. All but five states responded to the questions.

None of the election offices in states that allowed drop boxes in 2020 reported any instances in which the boxes were linked to voter fraud or stolen ballots. Likewise, none reported incidents in which the boxes or ballots were damaged to the extent that election results would have been affected. Several states said they do not use drop boxes, while some had not allowed them before 2020, when the pandemic prompted wider use of mailed ballots. Drop boxes have been a mainstay in states with extensive mail voting for years and had not raised any alarms. Arizona Assistant Secretary of State Allie Bones said drop boxes are "safe and secure" and might even be more secure than Postal Service mailboxes. She said bipartisan teams in the state collect ballots from drop boxes and take them directly to secure election facilities, following chain-of-custody protocols. "The hysteria around ballot drop boxes I think is just a made-up thing to create doubt and fear," Bones said.

(More drop box stories.)

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