The City of Cambridge Election Commission has installed five additional voting drop box locations to ensure an efficient collection of ballots in the upcoming state and presidential election.
In an Oct. 5 press release, the Commission announced the installation and location of the new voting drop boxes, which are available for use until Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. Due to a nationwide backlog of voter box orders, the city had only one drop box location during the state’s primary election in September, but has since received five additional boxes.
The voting boxes are evenly distributed across the city at locations including City Hall and the Cambridge Police Headquarters. The drop boxes are an alternative to using the United States Postal Service to send in absentee ballots.
Although some residents have yet to receive their ballots, many have already begun depositing their ballots at all six locations, according to Cambridge City Councilor Patricia M. Nolan.
“We’re getting many ballots already,” Nolan said. “They were only put in place last week and a couple others just recently opened, so it’s very early. But so far, the indications are that people are quite grateful for them.”
Given Cambridge’s high budget and access to resources, the security of mail-in voting should not be a concern, Nolan said. She added that Cambridge has made voter security a priority through an increase in poll workers and COVID-19 measures to allow in-person voting. However, she said, this notion of election security can not be assumed nationwide.
“For example, in California the GOP were putting up ballot boxes that weren’t even the official ballot boxes,” Nolan said.
In July, the state implemented new state laws about voting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including allowing any voter to request a ballot with no excuse needed. Although these laws are set to expire at the end of the year, Nolan argued that a permanent extension would help to combat voter suppression.
“We as a state should stand up and have same-day voting registration, allow early voting all the time,” Nolan said. “So, I hope that our experience with this pandemic will promote the country to have more accessible voting for all.”
Nolan said she wished Cambridge allowed individuals to vote in any precinct and not just in their assigned one. Nonetheless, Nolan said she is hopeful that the Cambridge voting system — especially the drop boxes for mail-in voting — will be implemented nationwide.
“We should be able to do this for all elections,” Nolan said. “My hope is that we learn from this and remove barriers that are set up for voting.”