Lack of security, transparency, and consistency with drop boxes prove they are a threat to election integrity
(HARRISBURG) – Senate Republicans announced they will soon introduce a proposal sponsored by Senators Cris Dush (R-25), Ryan Aument (R-36), Jake Corman (R-34), and Kim Ward (R-39) that will require mail-in ballots that are not returned in the mail to be returned only to the County Board of Elections office, effectively eliminating drop boxes in Pennsylvania. The sponsors say the proposal, Senate Bill 1200, is part of continuing efforts to increase the integrity of Pennsylvania’s election system.
Drop boxes were first used in Pennsylvania when they were written into law by the courts, without authorization from the Legislature, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s important for the public to understand that drop boxes were created by the courts out of thin air through an undemocratic and uncollaborative process that was entirely independent of the Legislature,” said Corman. “This key reform is a good first step to help restore the public’s faith in the sanctity of our voting system so Pennsylvanians can once again have an election system they believe in.”
“What the courts claimed was meant to be a temporary solution during the pandemic is now a permanent issue wrought with consequences, including a lack of proper guidelines or security measures to govern the use of these drop boxes,” said Aument.
Since the introduction of drop boxes in 2020, there have been numerous examples from around the state proving they breed misuse:
- Video evidence from Lehigh County shows ballot stuffing in the 2021 General Election,
- Video evidence from Lackawanna County of a man allegedly stuffing multiple ballots into a drop box during the 2021 Primary Election,
- Video evidence from Montgomery County shows ballot stuffing in the 2021 General Election,
- Testimony from a Luzerne County Judge of Elections indicates an individual admitting to repeatedly stuffing a drop box, not realizing it was even illegal, and
- Cell phone geolocation data shows suspicious activity regarding drop boxes in Philadelphia, including some devices visiting drop box locations more than 100 times.
Ballot stuffing – the act of depositing anyone’s ballot that isn’t your own into a drop box without written permission – is a crime punishable by a second-degree misdemeanor, and conviction can carry a two-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine under current law.
“Intentional or unintentional, misusing these drop boxes is a crime – period,” said Aument. “Restoring security, transparency, and consistency in our election process will help Pennsylvanians regain trust in results and in the system.”
The bill sponsors are confident the measure won’t negatively impact voter access, as there are plenty of secure ways for Pennsylvanians to cast their vote:
- In person on Election Day,
- Provisional ballot on Election Day,
- Absentee ballot returned via personal mailbox,
- Absentee ballot returned via USPS collection box,
- Absentee ballot returned in person at the County Election Office,
- Absentee ballot returned in person at a USPS office,
- Absentee ballot returned in person by a designee with written consent if the voter is disabled, or in certain emergency situations, and unable to return it on their own,
- Mail-in ballot returned via personal mailbox,
- Mail-in ballot returned via USPS collection box,
- Mail-in ballot returned in person at the County Election Office,
- Mail-in ballot returned in person at a USPS office, and
- Mail-in ballot returned in person by a designee with written consent if the voter is disabled and unable to return it on their own.
“All these methods are more secure than drop boxes,” said Dush. “Eliminating drop boxes will bring us closer to securing our elections while we pursue other necessary reforms.”
CONTACT: Erica Clayton Wright (Senator Kim Ward)
Jason Thompson (Senator Corman)