City of Madison redesigns outlawed ballot dropboxes with artwork, updated voting guidelines

MADISON, Wis. — If you had one of the 14 City of Madison ballot drop boxes from the 2020 election in your neighborhood, you might have noticed a change lately.

The secured drop boxes, which were banned from use in future elections by the Wisconsin Supreme Court this past summer, are no longer decorated with the colors of the city’s flag. They have now been painted black and covered in artwork by artist Jenny Holzer, including a quote from Sojourner Truth: “Truth is powerful and will prevail.”

The front of the drop boxes have also been redone to note the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision and a list of places where absentee ballots must now be returned following the ruling: any U.S. Postal Service mailbox, the city clerk’s office, any in-person absentee voting location during early voting, or your polling place on Election Day.

News 3 Now requested an interview with city officials Wednesday on the changes to the drop boxes but was told no one was available. The city sent a written press release instead.

“The ability to vote easily, safely and securely is fundamental to our democratic process,” Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in the release. “Rather than removing these secure ballot drop boxes, we wanted to transform them to share the powerful words of Sojourner Truth and to convey our community’s belief in democracy, voting rights and the prevailing power of truth.”

RELATED: SCOWis decision to block drop boxes leaves voters fewer options in November

Madison Election Dropbox

Jim Malewitz / Wisconsin Watch

The city used work from Holzer in 2020 on kiosks, banners, murals and mobile billboards during get-out-the-vote efforts. In its release Tuesday, the city said it approached Holzer again after the state supreme court decision about recirculating the Sojourner Truth quote.

The city says the work adding the new artwork on the dropboxes — which have been locked and not utilized for months — is already underway and can be seen on several of them across the city.