VOPP: Table 9: Ballot Drop Box Definitions, Design Features, Location and Number

4/27/2020

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

A ballot drop box provides a location where voters can drop off 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 each state that permits or requires ballot drop boxes. California’s laws are by far the most extensive, and each state may not have statutory or regulatory guidance in each of the categories.

Note: No statutory or regulatory guidance was found for drop boxes in Kansas, Nebraska or Utah.

State Drop Box Definition Drop Box Design Features Number and Location

Arizona

ARS §§ 16-548, 16-550, 16-579 and 16-584
N/A Does not need to be separate from an Election Day ballot box. Must be “secure.”

Election officials determine the location; no information on number.

California

West's Ann. Cal. Elec. Code §§ 3025, 20132, 20133, 20134, 20135, 20136 and 20137

 

*California provides extensive directions for a ballot drop box’s design and location; view the cited statutes 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.”

May be staffed or unstaffed. Must be labeled “Official Ballot Drop Box” and include language about tampering, voter hotlines, postage and other information. Must be constructed to withstand vandalism, with a clearly identified ballot insertion slot and a unique identifying number. At least one drop box at a location must meet accessibility requirements.

 

If feasible, drop boxes should be monitored by a video surveillance system

County election officials determine the location and must consider population, geographic areas, voter convenience, proximity to public transportation, community-based locations, security, and available funding. County election officials determine the number.

 

County election officials must inform the secretary of state of the drop box locations at least 30 days prior to the election.

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 1-7.5-107, 8 CCR 1505-1:7

N/A

Must be adequately lit and monitored by either an election official or video security surveillance system. Ballots must be collected in a locked container, and the drop boxes must contain signage about ballot collection and electioneering.

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

Hawaii

H.R.S. § 11-1, § 11-B, § 11-I
“’Place of deposit’ means a site within the county of the voter's registration address designated pursuant to section 11-I 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.

Montana

13-19-307

N/A Must be staffed by at least two election officials.

Ballots may be returned at the election administrator’s office and one or more other designated locations.

New Mexico

N. M. S. A. 1978, § 1-6-9

N/A

Must be a “secured container” and monitored by video surveillance cameras.  Must include signage about ballot collection and electioneering.

County election officials determine the location and must be posted at least 90 days before a statewide election or 42 days before a special election. No information on number.

Oregon

O.R.S. § 254.470 and Vote by Mail Procedures Manual

N/A Must have official signage, be locked or sealed, tamper-proof and staffed.

There must be one dropsite at the county elections office, at least two dropsites per county, at least one dropsite for every 30,000 active registered voters and a dropsite within at least four miles of each public university or community college. County election officials must consider population, geographic areas, security and available funding when determining a dropsite location other than the county elections office or the County Courthouse.

Washington

West's RCWA 29A.40.160, 29A.40.0001

N/A Must be designed to prevent overflow.

Drop boxes must be located at each voting center and at least one other location. There must be at least one drop box per 15,000 registered voters in the county and at least one drop box in each city, town and place with a post office. 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.