Ballot box brouhaha: Election commissioners at odds over absentee ballot receptacles
Rochester, N.Y. – A battle over the ballot boxes in Monroe County – aluminum versus cardboard: There is a deep divide on which is better for your vote.
The boxes could be used for tens of thousands of absentee ballots, an increase due to COVID-19. The boxes came from a mandate from the state. It seemed simple: Provide an official receptacle for absentee ballots. But, in Monroe County, the decision has become anything but simple.
The cardboard box is what the Republican election commissioner believes is the perfect answer to hold absentee ballots.
“This is the option we came up with so we could save some money,” explained Commissioner Lisa Nicolay.
Democratic Commissioner Jackie Ortiz favors an aluminum box with two locks. She believes the box that holds absentee ballots must instill confidence in voters. Her choice would cost $150,000 for the 300 needed. She says the money for the metal box is covered by the federal CARES Act and believes it’s money well spent – especially this year, with concerns about election fraud.
“Unless someone’s going to wrestle someone to the ground and take it, which is clearly a possibility, we trust our election inspectors with our ballots,” she said.
In addition to security, Ortiz says the metal boxes can be used again, and that’s why Assemblyman Harry Bronson favors them.
“I think this is the future,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to turn back after we experience it here in the general election.”
The metal boxes would be made by steel workers in a local union, and they want the work. The head of the union says they can get the job done, but time is running out.