Table 9: Ballot Drop Box Laws

2/14/2022

Our organization does not run elections and cannot provide legal advice. If you are a voter looking for assistance, please contact your local election official. You can find your local election official's website and contact information by using this database from the US Vote Foundation.

This table is part of NCSL’s Voting Outside the Polling Place report.

A ballot drop box is a receptacle where voters can return absentee/mail ballots in sealed and signed envelopes. The drop boxes may be supervised or unsupervised with security features, such as cameras. Many states that permit or require ballot drop boxes set minimum requirements for where they must be located, how many a county must have, hours they must be available and security standards.

The table below summarizes the drop box definition, design features, number and location as required by states that address ballot drop boxes in statute. The table provides statutory information only, but regulatory citations are provided if available. Note that additional states may permit the use of drop boxes without explicit statutory provisions.

State

Drop Box Definition

Drop Box Design and Security Features

Number and Location

Arizona

ARS § 16-548

 

Note: See State of Arizona Election Procedures Manual for more details.

N/A N/A Located at a polling place.

California

West's Ann. Cal. Elec. Code §§ 3025, 3025.5, 4005, 4007

 

Note: California provides extensive regulations on ballot drop boxes; see 2 CCR § 20132-20137 for more details.

“A secure receptacle established by a county or city and county elections official whereby a voted vote by mail ballot may be returned to the elections official from whom it was obtained.”

Must be “secure, accessible, and locked” and available for at least 12 hours a day.

Jurisdictions with fewer than 30,000 registered voters must provide one drop box; larger jurisdictions must provide one drop box for every 30,000 registered voters. Some counties may require one drop box for every 15,000 registered voters. County election officials determine the location and must consider public transportation routes.

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 1-7.5-107

 

Note: See 8 CCR 1505-1:7 for further details.

N/A

N/A

County election officials must locate the drop boxes “in a manner that provides the greatest convenience to electors,” and must provide at least one drop box for every 30,000 registered voters.

Florida

West's F.S.A. § 101.69

N/A

Drop boxes must be secure. Drop boxes must be monitored in-person and, except for those at the office of the supervisor, can only be open during the hours for early voting. Drop boxes must be emptied every day.

Drop boxes may be located at the main office of the supervisor, at each permanent branch office of the supervisor and at early voting sites. Drop boxes must be geographically located so all voters in the county have an equal opportunity to cast a ballot. Drop box locations must be designated at least 30 days before an election.

Georgia

Ga. Code Ann., § 21-2-382

N/A

The opening slot of a drop box shall not allow ballots to be tampered with or removed and shall be designed to minimize the ability for liquid or other substances that may damage ballots to be poured into the drop box. A drop box shall be labeled "OFFICIAL ABSENTEE BALLOT DROP BOX" and shall clearly display the signage developed by the Secretary of State pertaining to Georgia law with regard to who is allowed to return absentee ballots and destroying, defacing, or delaying delivery of ballots. The drop box location shall have adequate lighting and be under constant surveillance by an election official or his or her designee, law enforcement official, or licensed security guard.

At least one drop box per county. Local election officials may establish additional drop boxes, but may only establish additional drop boxes totaling the lesser of either one drop box for every 100,000 active registered voters in the county or the number of advance voting locations in the county. Any additional drop boxes shall be evenly geographically distributed by population in the county and located at the office of the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk or inside advance voting locations.

Hawaii

H.R.S. § 11-1, 109

 

Note: See Haw. Admin. Rules (HAR) § 3-177-506-508 for additional details.

“’Place of deposit’ means a site within the county of the voter's registration address for the purpose of receiving return identification envelopes in an election conducted by mail.”

Must be “securely maintained.”

County election officials determine number and location.

Illinois

10 ILCS 5/19-6

N/A

All collection sites shall be secured by locks that may be opened only by election authority personnel. Ballots shall be collected every day. The State Board of Elections shall establish additional security guidelines.

Election authorities may maintain one or more collection sites.

Iowa

I.C.A. § 53.17

 

Note: See Iowa Admin. Code 721-21.307(53) for additional details.

N/A

Must have all reasonable and necessary measures to ensure that the ballot drop box is accessible and secure, such as placing the ballot drop box in a place regularly viewed by the commissioner or the commissioner’s staff. Must be monitored by a video surveillance system that creates a recording, which shall be reviewed by the state commissioner, county attorney, and law enforcement in the event that misconduct occurs. A ballot drop box must be securely fastened to a stationary surface or an immovable object, be secured by a lock, include a tamper-evident seal and be emptied at least four times per day. Only the commissioner or an employee of the commissioner shall have access to the means to unfasten the lock.

A commissioner is not required to establish a ballot drop box.  A commissioner shall not establish more than one ballot drop box, which shall be located at the office of the commissioner, or on property owned and maintained by the county that directly surrounds the building where the office is located.

Kentucky

KRS § 117.086

 

Note: See 31 Ky. Admin. Regs. 5:025E for additional details.

N/A

Drop boxes must be secured to ensure immobility while in use, under video surveillance at all times, tamper-resistant and conspicuously identified as a mail-in absentee ballot drop-off location. Drop boxes inside the county clerk’s office shall be under direct supervision of the staff at all times. The State Board of Elections may establish additional security measures.

County clerks must provide at least one secure ballot drop box for each election in a well-lit and easily accessible location. Locations must be posted on the county clerk’s website.

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A. § 752-B

“A device containing a slot or chute through which an absentee voter may deposit an absentee ballot into a secure, locked collection box in accordance with the requirements of this section.”

Drop boxes must be bolted or otherwise securely fastened to prevent its removal by an unauthorized person. The slot or chute of a secured drop box must be designed to prevent an individual from reaching into the slot or chute and accessing the contents of the secure collection box and to protect the contents of the secure collection box from the elements. The secured drop box must include a mechanism to close and lock the slot or chute in a manner that prevents the deposit of additional absentee ballots at 8 p.m. on Election Day. Each secured drop box must be monitored periodically by law enforcement personnel, municipal staff or a surveillance camera. Drop boxes must be labeled to indicate it is an official secured drop box.

Municipalities may provide drop boxes. The secured drop box must be located outside the municipal office building or the building where in-person absentee voting takes place, and municipalities may seek approval from the Secretary of State to obtain and install additional secured drop boxes at other locations.

Maryland

MD Code, Election Law, § 1-101, § 2-304, 305

“A secure, durable, and weatherproof container that is officially designated by a local board or the State Board exclusively for voters to deposit election-related materials in person.”

Ballot drop boxes must be monitored by security cameras at all times and by periodic in-person visits by appropriate personnel. Drop boxes shall be emptied at least once per day.

Local boards must consider the following factors when determining ballot drop box locations: accessibility to historically disenfranchised communities, proximity to dense concentrations of voters, accessibility by public transportation, equitable distribution of drop boxes throughout the county and maximizing voter participation through placement at community centers and public gathering places. The State Administrator must approve the drop box locations

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. 54 § 92

N/A

N/A

Municipal drop boxes may be provided.

Michigan

M.C.L.A. 168.761d, 168.764a

N/A

Drop boxes must be clearly labeled as an absent voter ballot drop boxes, be securely locked, be designed to prevent the removal of absent voter ballots when locked, be secured to prevent the removal of the drop box from its location, be equipped with a single slot or mailbox-style lever to allow ballots to be placed in the drop box and be under video monitoring.

Secure drop boxes may be offered in the city or township. They must be located in a public, well-lit area.

Minnesota

M.S.A. § 203B.082

 

Note: See Minnesota Rules, part 8210.3000 for additional details.

“A secure receptacle or container established to receive completed absentee ballots 24 hours per day.”

Drop boxes must be continually recorded during the absentee voting period; designed to prevent an unauthorized person from moving, removing or tampering with the drop box; secured to prevent the drop box’s removal; secured against access by any unauthorized person; and clearly identified as an official absentee ballot return location. Ballots must be collected at least once per business day. Electioneering within 100 feet of the drop box is prohibited.

The county auditor or municipal clerk may provide drop boxes and must provide a list of locations to the secretary of state no later than 40 days before the start of the absentee voting period. The list must be published on the county or municipality’s website.

Nebraska

Neb.Rev.St. § 32-960

 

Note: This statute applies to all-mail elections only.

N/A

Must be “secure.”

Each county clerk must provide one secure drop box that is available 24 hours a day and starting at least 10 days before the election.

Nevada

N.R.S. AB 321, § 8

N/A

Must be constructed of metal or any other rigid material of sufficient strength and resistance to protect the security of the mail ballots; and capable of securely receiving and holding the mail ballots and being locked.

County clerks must establish a drop box at each polling place in the county, without limitation. Clerks may also establish drop boxes at other locations. Drop boxes must be placed in an accessible and convenient location and made available for use during the hours when the office of the county clerk or polling place is open for business or voting, as applicable.

New Jersey

N.J.S.A. 19:63-16.1

“A secured drop box that is not required to be within view of a live person for monitoring.”

All ballot drop boxes must be secure, available 24 hours a day and monitored by security cameras.   All ballot drop box locations shall be on sites that meet the accessibility requirements applicable to polling places under R.S.19:8-2 and shall be subject to the same compliance oversight applicable to polling places under section 3 of P.L.1991, c. 429 (C.19:8-3.3). A ballot drop box site shall be considered accessible if it is in compliance with the federal “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990” (42 U.S.C. s.12101 et seq.).

The county board of elections shall establish no fewer than 10 drop boxes. At least one ballot drop box shall be located at any county government building in which the main office of the county clerk is located; in each municipality with a population larger than 5,000 residents; at the main campus of each State college or university; and the main campus of each independent four-year college or university with enrollments larger than 5,000 students. Whenever possible, at least one drop box shall be located in a municipality with an average per capita income or a median family income at or below 250% of the federal poverty guideline. Officials should consider population density, geographic areas, voter convenience, proximity to public transportation, community-based locations, travel time to location, proximity to other voting locations, commuter traffic patterns and security when choosing locations.

Drop boxes must be on sites that meet the accessibility requirements applicable to polling places.

New Mexico

N. M. S. A. 1978, § 1-6-9

 

Note: See N.M. Admin. Code 1.10.19 for further details.

N/A

Must be a “secured container” and monitored by video surveillance cameras.  Must include signage about ballot collection and electioneering. Ballots must be collected at least one a day.

County election officials determine the location, which must be posted at least 90 days before a statewide election or 42 days before a special election.

Oregon

O.R.S. § 254.470

 

Note: See Vote by Mail Procedures Manual for further details.

N/A

Must have official signage.

N/A

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-3a-204, 20A-5-403.5

N/A

Must be marked as an official drop box.

Election officials may designate ballot drop boxes in each jurisdiction.

Vermont

17 V.S.A. § 2543, 2543a

N/A

Must be “secure,” affixed to a foundation or other immovable object, under 24-hour video surveillance (or be within sight of the municipal building), tamper-proof and able to be closed once the deposit deadline has passed.

The town or city may provide ballot drop boxes, and they must be located on municipal property. Must be open 24 hours a day. The secretary of state will provide drop boxes to a town or city upon request following a vote of the board of civil authority.

Virginia

VA Code Ann. § 24.2-707.1

N/A

N/A

The general registrar shall establish drop-off locations at the office of the general registrar, each voter satellite office and—on Election Day—each polling place. Drop-off locations must be accessible and on public property.

Washington

West's RCWA 29A.40.160, 29.40.17

 

Note: See WAC 434-250-100 for further details.

N/A

Must be designed to prevent overflow.

The county auditor must establish at least one drop box per 15,000 registered voters in the county and at least one drop box in each city, town and census-designated place in the county with a post office. Drop boxes must also be located at each voting center. There must be at least one ballot drop box on an Indian reservation at a site selected by the tribe and accessible by a public road.