WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Sept. 6, Fulton County, Pennsylvania banned the use of ballot drop boxes, except for the duration of Election Day. During a public meeting, the county commissioners addressed a motion for “the ballot drop box to be available from the start and end of polls for elections,” which suggests narrow availability on Election Day. The motion was supported 2-1, with commissioner Paula Shives dissenting. Shives noted that her opposition was based upon the fact that she believes one day does not allow “voters sufficient time to drop off ballots in the ballot box.”
This rural county, where former President Donald Trump received 84% of the vote in 2020, is the latest in a push from Republican-led jurisdictions to ban, or heavily curtail, drop boxes across the country. Earlier this summer, the Wisconsin Supreme Court outlawed the use of the drop boxes in the whole state. Pennsylvania has become another flashpoint; in August, the Luzerne County Council narrowly rejected a proposal that would have placed restrictions on the use of the ballot drop boxes in the county in future elections. In the past few weeks alone, new lawsuits were filed by America First Legal — a conservative group founded by former Trump officials Mark Meadows and Stephen Miller — to severely curtail the use of drop boxes. The plaintiffs ask for unnecessary regulations, such as placing drop boxes inside a building that’s open only during business hours or requiring drop boxes to be physically monitored by an election worker. The benefit of drop boxes is that they are secure, convenient and available 24/7, a useful alternative to mailing through the U.S. Postal Service.
In almost every Pennsylvania county, the three county commissioners sit on their county election boards as well, which are tasked with the responsibility of counting mail-in ballots, generating a county-wide canvass and transmitting those complete and accurate results to the secretary of the commonwealth. This summer, several counties faced a lawsuit from the state over their refusal to include certain valid ballots in their final 2022 primary election certification totals.