‘Ballots are secure as they can be’: Local clerks emphasize security behind absentee ballot drop boxes

MADISON, Wis. — Election clerks across the state of Wisconsin are already getting back some of the thousands of absentee ballots they sent out last week.

Clerks in Dane County are expecting the vast majority of people to vote absentee, and they want to make sure that stays as secure as the elections usually are. One way they are doing that is by installing or using absentee ballot drop boxes.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has guidance for clerks to make sure, no matter the town, village or city, voters know this is secure. The boxes should be under surveillance with minimal access and emptied multiple times per day.

“Clerks take it very seriously,” said Joan Andrusz, the Monona city clerk. “We have a lot of processes in place that we have to follow, and we do our very, very best, and we make sure, every ballot counts.”

Andrusz used grant money from the commission to buy a metal drop bin, which has a small opening, two locks, a tamper-proof seal (changed when the clerk or staff collects the ballots) and is under 24-hour surveillance outside the police station.

“Ballots are secure as they can be,” she said.

Other municipalities have different bins. In Fitchburg, the clerk said the city is using the same one it’s used for previous elections. It is a permanent installment in the vestibule, also locked, under constant video watch and emptied every hour, according to the clerk.