Drop boxes have become a popular option for voters this year, with more people wanting to vote by mail, but wanting to avoid using the postal service.
Just before the start of early voting in Florida, the Department of State issued a warning and new guidance to elections officials: those outside drop boxes should be staffed by individuals — and video surveillance won’t be enough.
Right now, there are four outside drop boxes in Palm Beach County: one outside the Supervisor of Elections Office in West Palm Beach, and three new ones outside branch offices in Palm Beach Gardens, Delray Beach and Belle Glade.
All four have 24/7 video surveillance.
In a letter obtained by CBS12 News, the Florida Department of State warned Supervisors of Elections on Oct. 14 that more security was needed at drop boxes — specifically staffers who can watch for any threats.
“The statute requires that drop boxes remain secure from those who intend to do harm to the boxes,” the letter states. “A person onsite can prevent foreign substances or small incendiary devices (like firecrackers) from being thrown into the drop box; video monitoring cannot serve the same function.”
Supervisor Link told CBS12 News that in response to the letter, they will have a law enforcement presence at night to watch the drop boxes “out of an abundance of caution.”
Ron Labasky, attorney for the Florida Supervisor of Elections Association, said this guidance came out too close to the election.
He interprets the statute differently, and advised Supervisors of Elections in the state that security measures are up to their discretion, and that staffing is not required under the law.
According to emails obtained by CBS12 News, Supervisors of Elections were concerned when the DeSantis administrations issued this late guidance.
“This is causing a big stink with the counties that have 24 hour drop boxes,” said Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer in an e-mail. “Mostly larger counties, Me, Orange, Broward, Palm Beach. Some SOE’s do not feel the law is being interpreted properly.”
Other Supervisors of Elections, like Vicki Davis in Martin County, said they already planned to have their drop boxes staffed.