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Tuesday, December 7, 2021
ArlingtonPoliticsVoter ‘dropboxes’ coming for primary, but maybe not right away

Voter ‘dropboxes’ coming for primary, but maybe not right away

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To paraphrase a former president: If you like your local election dropbox, you’ll get to keep it.

But maybe not right away.

Because of the vagaries of Virginia state law, it’s unlikely that Arlington election officials will be able to use dropbox locations immediately to accept ballots for the June 8 Democratic primary.

Voting begins later in April, and it is likely that Gov. Northam will not have signed the state budget by then.

What does the state budget have to do with voting dropboxes across Arlington? It seems a logical question that deserves a somewhat logical answer.

Last year, state lawmakers approved emergency legislation requiring election officials to position dropboxes for the collection of absentee ballots in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 general election. But that legislation lapsed after November, and a measure to allow dropboxes for the primary was included in budget amendments debated by the General Assembly and sent to Northam during the 2021 session.

Until the governor puts pen to paper, dropboxes are illegal. Once he affixes his John Hancock, they are once again allowed.

“The second the governor signs the budget bill, we will open the dropboxes,” county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer said.

In the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, the 24-hour drop-off locations saw a total of about 12,000 ballots deposited between their debut on Oct. 9 through Election Day on Nov. 3.

The dropbox at 2200 Clarendon Blvd. (near the county-government headquarters) received the most ballots during the one-month period leading up to the election, a total of 3,936. Others scattered across the county received between 356 and 1,908 each.

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