(Graphic by COURIER/Denzel Boyd; (UNN Photo/Ethan Duran)
(Graphic by COURIER/Denzel Boyd; (UNN Photo/Ethan Duran)

Ballots placed in the boxes emptied daily.

This article is part of COURIER’s Your Vote 2020 hub. For more stories from each of the battleground states, along with national reporting, visit the site here.

Local governments across Wisconsin are using drop boxes to collect absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 election in anticipation for an absentee voting surge due to the coronavirus pandemic, and as concerns spread over possible mail delays

Similar in appearance to the traditional blue mailboxes used by the US Postal Service, the drop boxes for absentee ballots are also similar in size and function. But instead of an absentee ballot traveling to the post office before being routed to its final destination, an absentee ballot dropped in a box is taken directly to the clerk’s office. The boxes will be emptied daily. 

Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee are among the cities that plan to use drop boxes this election. 

Milwaukee plans to install 15 drop boxes, with 13 to be located at city libraries. Appleton will have seven drop boxes, with six of them at city fire stations. There will be 11 more located in the surrounding Fox Cities. 

Green Bay will have a drop box at its City Hall, as well as boxes in the clerks’ offices of six surrounding villages. Eau Claire will have four drop box locations and Madison has plans to install 14 drop boxes.

“Some people are concerned about post office delivery right now,” said Reid Magney, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Elections Commission. “They want the option of being able to deliver their ballot without worrying about it being lost or delayed.” 

Claire Woodall-Vogg, the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said  the drop boxes in Milwaukee will be under  24-hour camera surveillance and ballots will be picked up daily by election commission staff.

“Ballots can be dropped off at any location, 24 hours a day,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett at a news conference. “Right up until the polls close on Nov. 3.”

Voters need to return their ballots to a ballot box in their hometown. For example, a Madison voter should turn their absentee ballot in at a Madison drop box or at the Madison clerk’s office.

Those who chose to vote by absentee ballots do not have to place their ballot in a drop box. Absentee ballots can also be mailed to or dropped off at municipal clerks’ offices. To find out where drop boxes will be located near you, or where your municipal clerk’s office is located, go to this search engine on the My Vote Wisconsin’s website.