A sign directs voters to an official Miami-Dade County ballot...

A sign directs voters to an official Miami-Dade County ballot drop box where they can cast their vote by placing their mail-in ballots inside the box on August 11, 2020 in Miami, Florida.  Credit: Getty Images/Joe Raedle

When former President Donald Trump and his allies were stirring fears of election fraud during the 2020 election, ballot drop boxes were a major target. Trump criticized them in his attacks on voting by mail, a long-standing practice in many states that was expanded in 2020 due to COVID-19 and fears of voting in person.

The accusations were specious.There were no credible reports of significant fraud involving the boxes or mail-in ballots. Now an Associated Press survey of top elections officials in each state concurs: 45 states responded (New York did not), and none, whether dominated by Democrats or Republicans, reported serious issues.

In New York, drop boxes were placed at Board of Election offices, early-voting sites and polling places for the general election after significant problems with mail-in voting during the 2020 primaries. Some 84,000 of the 403,000 primary votes cast by mail were disqualified for arriving too late, lacking a postmark or signature, or other flaws.

In this year’s election, New Yorkers will again be able to vote absentee with no excuse and drop a ballot at BOE offices, early-voting sites and polls, but only because a special law tied to COVID risks allowed it. Two constitutional amendments on the 2021 ballot, to allow voters to register on Election Day and allow permanent no-excuse absentee voting, were defeated. Many other states place drop boxes in locations other than voting sites or BOE offices.

Nationally, the Associated Press survey on drop boxes tracks with a previous AP investigation of voter fraud in the six states Trump contested in 2020. It found fewer than 475 reports of potential voter fraud.

Again and again, every shred of evidence shows the 2020 election was secure and fair, yet the inability or unwillingness of Republican leaders and voters to accept this has drop boxes under attack. In Louisiana, Missouri and South Carolina, they’ve effectively been banned. 

In North Carolina, many voters believe drop-box skulduggery contributed to Trump’s loss there. But North Carolina didn’t use them. That’s of a piece with all of the other unhinged, evidence-free claims of election fraud.

Many state elections officials surveyed by The Associated Press say drop boxes are more secure than sending in ballots via mail, where they can more easily be lost or arrive too late to be counted. In two cases in Massachusetts and Louisiana, drop boxes were set on fire, but the majority of ballots were recast after voters were contacted.

With all the challenges our nation faces, receiving further word that our elections are secure ought to be greeted as good news. Increased mail-in voting and drop boxes are an improvement, not a flaw, and ought to be expanded, not attacked.

MEMBERS OF THE EDITORIAL BOARD are experienced journalists who offer reasoned opinions, based on facts, to encourage informed debate about the issues facing our community.

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