Election Drop Box Is Secure, Cuyahoga County Voting Officials Say

Marcia McCoy drops her ballot into a box outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Cleveland, Ohio.
Marcia McCoy drops her ballot into a box outside the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Tony Dejak / AP]
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Already, Cuyahoga County voters are making good use of the board of elections’ sole drop box, local officials said Friday.

During a noon Facebook Live event, the board’s director and deputy director offered a primer on using the drop box, assuring voters that it is secure for ballots and other election paperwork.

“We have cars nonstop coming through our parking lot putting in voter registration cards and vote-by-mail applications,” Director Anthony Perlatti said, “which is a good thing, and people need to keep doing that.”

Perlatti said the box is of the sort used on the West Coast, where voting by mail is prevalent. The board keeps the drop box under 24-hour video surveillance, and bipartisan election staffers collect the contents from inside, Deputy Director Shantiel Soeder said.

“It is a big, steel edifice that weighs a lot, anchored into the cement, so no one is walking up and grabbing that and walking away with it,” Perlatti said. “It is a big, beefy box.”

Anyone can drop off voter registrations and absentee applications for other people, Perlatti said. But only close family members are allowed to drop off ballots for one another. Ohio law defines those relatives as spouses, parents, in-laws, grandparents, siblings, children and step-children, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

Election drop boxes sit at the center of an ongoing dispute and lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

The Ohio Democratic Party is suing Secretary of State Frank LaRose over a directive he issued in August prohibiting boards from setting out a drop box anywhere but at the board’s headquarters. The suit asks Judge Richard A. Frye to allow for multiple drop boxes in each county.

Earlier this week, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office moved to dismiss the case, arguing in part that the court should not change election procedures so close to the vote itself. Frye has not yet ruled on that motion.

Perlatti and Soeder plan to hold regular Facebook Live talks on Wednesdays and Fridays at noon to explain the process of voting in this year’s general election, according to a news release from the board.

At Friday’s event, a viewer asked how boards check the signatures on voters’ ballot envelopes. Election officials verify signatures against those in the voter registration database, Soeder said.

“If there is an issue with your signatures, we will send out a letter to let you know that we were not able to verify the signature that’s on your application against the signature that’s in your voter registration record,” she said.

As of Thursday, the county board had processed more than 200,000 absentee ballot applications, accounting for 23 percent of the county’s registered voters.

Boards begin mailing ballots Oct. 6

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