At Monday's meeting of Northampton County's Elections Commission, nine people objected to a 24/7 drop box at the 911 Center. This decision was made, not by the Elections Commission, but the county administration. But Comm'r Frank DeVito summed up the dissenting views succinctly when he stated the benefits of a 24/7 dropbox are minimal in comparison to the suspicions aroused. "The appearance of corruption is just as important as corruption itself," he warned. Fortunately, someone was listening to DeVito and the nine voters who attended the meeting. That person was Executive Lamont McClure. And in response to the concerns raised, he dropped the 24/7 dropbox at the 911 Center. It will instead be open from 8:30 am until 8 pm.
The reason for the dropbox is to provide secure locations where voters can drop off ballots without having to worry whether a mailed ballot was received. The reason for the extended hours is to accommodate voters who are unable drop off a ballot during regular business hours.
At yesterday's meeting, Comm'r Maude Hornick complained there should be a drop box in the Slate Belt. The County has placed them in each of the four county council districts. The drop box at the 911 Center is in Region Four, which does include the Slate Belt.
The larger question, and one that still needs to be answered, is whether this is the province of the Elections Commission. Since this relates to the conduct of an election, I believe the Elections Commission should decide whether they are needed as well as the hours of operation. I nevertheless commend Executive McClure for listening to the public's concerns and doing something that is very difficult for an elected official to do - change his mind.
The dropboxes will be available on October 4.