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Lebanon County to replace ballot drop-box with shed drop-off

  • Ben Wasserstein/WITF
A photo of Lebanon County's ballot drop box from 2023

 Courtesy of Jo Ellen Litz

A photo of Lebanon County's ballot drop box from 2023


Lebanon County voters will once again be able to drop off their ballots outside the courthouse.

But this time they won’t be putting them into a box.

Commissioners voted 2-1 to build a shed-like site across several parking spaces outside the courthouse. It will be staffed by one person and will be open starting April 1. The shed will be surrounded by windows and have a door.

The shed will allow voters to drive or walk up and hand their ballots to an attendant, who will place them in a secured box.

By law, voters can only drop off someone else’s ballot if they have written permission. If a voter is dropping off ballots by drive-thru, they are able to hand in more than their own, so long as the other person is in the car with them.

It will be open during business hours except on Election Day when it will be open from the time polls open until they close.

In late January, commissioners voted to remove the drop-box with the sole Democratic commissioner voting against its removal. The commissioners did not announce that vote in the meeting’s agenda – a potential Sunshine Act violation – and re-voted the following month to remove it.

The decision to remove the box was over concerns people might return multiple ballots at once — also known as ballot harvesting — and could potentially lead to fraud.

Conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation found five cases of voter fraud in Pennsylvania related to absentee ballots since 2020.

Community outcry about removing the drop-box led the board of elections to consider the outdoor, attended site.

This new decision did not silence some people who argued the decision feeds into the lie that the 2020 election was rigged.

Michael Schroeder of South Annville Township spoke on behalf of the Lebanon Branch of the NAACP.

“I want to express our extreme disappointment in the vote a couple of months ago to get rid of the drop-box,” he said. “It seems to us that it feeds into the big lie of stolen election, that it undermines public confidence in Lebanon County elections.”

Others at the meeting were concerned about cost.

“I was told that all these new situations are going to require a lot of investment and possibly tax increases,” said Dennis Fultz of Heidelberg Township. “So, I would say the overwhelming majority of the people in my voting district would be opposed to that on the money issue alone.”

Former Lebanon County Republican Committee chair Edward Lynch Jr. argued that mail-in voting should be done solely through the mail.

“I strongly disagree with drop-in ballot voting, drive-in voting,” he said. “Nowhere in Act 77,  which enabled mail-in ballot voting, does it indicates drive-in voting, drop-box voting, but specifically states mail-in ballot.”

The sole commissioner to vote against the drop-off site was Republican Robert Phillips, who is Lynch’s father-in-law.

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