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Drop-off boxes for absentee ballots coming to Onondaga County

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
An example of the "Ballot Box On Wheels," purchased by Onondaga County.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is requiring board of elections across the state to have ballot drop-off locations at all polling sites. In Onondaga County, ballot drop boxes will be available at every early voting and Election Day poll site, during polling hours, as well as at the Board of Elections, during normal business hours.

The ballot boxes won’t be out on street corners. Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said the boxes will be locked and sealed at polling site check-in tables, with signs indicating absentee ballots can be dropped in the boxes, without waiting in line.

“They’re on wheels, they’re locked and sealable,” Czarny said. “They cannot be opened without bipartisan controls on them. They will be transported from the polling places on Election Day back to the Board of Elections, and every night on early voting, back to the Board of Elections, for logging in the absentee ballots to get prepared for our counts after Election Day.”

The county purchased 165 ballot boxes using $25,000 of grant money. Czarny said the ballot boxes will allow them to get closer to a final count after Election Day.

“Expanded absentees is eventually going to turn into more mail-in voting, throughout the normal process, even after COVID-19,” Czarny said.

Any voter can apply for an absentee ballot by using the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason. More than 31,000 absentee ballots have been requested in Onondaga County. That’s already more than the number of absentee ballots for the June primary. Czarny said they’re anticipating anywhere between 100,000-125,000 absentee ballots for the general election.

He added that there has also been a tremendous response for election inspectors. About 700 people have taken the class.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.