New drop boxes to appear in Shelton — here’s why
SHELTON — Participating in the voting process is now as easy as dropping off the mail.
Metal boxes, bolted to the sidewalk and featuring the state of Connecticut seal, will soon be placed in front of City Hall and on the grounds of the Community Center in Huntington.
Signs on the boxes will read ‘Official Ballot Drop Box.’ They are available to allow voters to drop primary absentee ballot applications and the ballots for the August primary.
Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has sent out absentee ballot applications to all qualified voters and Gov. Ned Lamont, by executive order, has added a reason to allow people to get them: fear of the spread of the coronavirus. Voters can still vote in person if they desire.
“I’m sure they are safe. However, there appears to be a great deal of confusion in the minds of the general public,” said City Clerk Marge Domorod. “This is certainly a different election.”
To date, Domorod said her office has received 2,635 requests for absentee ballots as a result of secretary of state’s mailing. She said that the absentee ballot requests received is “far more than previous elections” by at least 1,000 requests. The requests are being entered into the Secretary of the State Clearing House system.
Gabe Rosenberg, spokesman for the secretary of the state’s office, said the boxes are fabricated by American Security Cabinets, a company that has been in business for years, serving other states that long have had mail-in voting.
State Rep. Jason Perillo, R-113, said he is concerned about security issues with the boxes.
“The chain of custody in the voting process is important,” said Perillo. “You go to the polls. You show your ID. You fill out a ballot. You stick it through the machine. It’s all observed. These unmonitored boxes eliminate that chain of custody.”
Currently, Perillo said, absentee ballots go through multiple processes to ensure that they are properly cast by the actual individual voting. Town clerks administer the absentee ballot process in Connecticut.
“Drop boxes do not have these protections,” said Perillo. “In some towns, these drop boxes are being used as glorified mailboxes where residents can drop their property tax payments. I’m hopeful that primary balloting goes smoothly but I know the state’s Town Clerk’s association is very concerned.”
Rosenberg, however, said the safety rules are overseen by the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of Homeland Security.
The American Security Cabinets drop boxes are made from high grade, heavy gauge, brushed stainless steel. Rosenberg said they are tamper-proof.
He said many other states have been using mail-in ballots for years, both red states such as Utah and Montana and blue states like Oregon and California.
Mary E. O’Leary contributed to this article.