Registrar assures security at drop boxes

John Chen of Chino Hills deposits two family ballots Thursday morning at the official drop box at the James S. Thalman Chino Hills Branch Library, one of 72 official drop boxes in San Bernardino County.

Responding to a question from Chino Hills Mayor Art Bennett about the security of official drop boxes in the Nov. 3 election, San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters Bob Page, addressing the city council Tuesday, said the boxes are constructed of 18-gauge steel weighing almost 200 pounds and bolted to concrete.

Four official drop boxes are located in the Chino Valley: the Chino Hills Branch Library on City Center Drive (see photo Page A3), Chino City Hall on Central Avenue, the Chino Police Department on Guardian Way, and the Chino Airport on Merrill Avenue.

Mr. Page said the ballots are picked up by a team of two Registrar of Voters ballot retrievers who wear a badge and vest that identifies them as designated ballot retrievers.

A set of two keys are needed to open the boxes.

Once the ballots are retrieved, they are taken to the Registrar of Voters office for processing. 

“We’re required under state regulations to retrieve the ballots at least every 96 hours until Friday, Oct. 23,” Mr. Page said. “After that date, we will pick them up at least every 48 hours.”

Mr. Page said there are chain-of-custody requirements and documentation that must be maintained.

Mayor Bennett said, “As you know, there is concern about voter fraud and I want the people of Chino Hills to know that chain-of-custody goes all the way back to the Registrar’s office and their ballots will get counted.”

Last weekend, non-official drop boxes were set up outside gas stations, churches, and political party offices in Los Angeles, Orange, and Fresno counties, prompting the chief of elections division for the Secretary of State’s office to send a memo to all county clerks and Registrars of Voters. 

Chief Jana Lean stated in the Oct. 11 memo that unauthorized drop boxes violate state law and jeopardizes the security of voters’ ballots.

She stated that county elections officials are charged with ensuring compliance with regulations that guarantee the security and chain-of-custody of the deposited ballots. 

Church box

At least one church in Chino has displayed a banner on its gate announcing that a ballot drop box is located on the church campus from 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Sundays until Nov. 1.

Several residents raised concerns about the church  drop box on social media.

Ms. Lean stated in the memo that the use of unauthorized, non-official drop boxes does not comply with state law governing ballot collection activities. 

She said official drop boxes must be securely fastened to prevent moving or tampering, must be secured by a lock or sealable with a tamper-evident seal, and must be monitored by a video security surveillance system or internal camera.

Drive-through 

The Chino Hills City Clerk's office will host a ballot drop-off event 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22 to provide an opportunity for voters to drive into the roundabout between city hall and the fire administration building on City Center Drive. 

Participants should enter off Boys Republic Drive to park and personally place their ballot  at the drop box in front of the library. 

For those with disabilities, a curbside drop-off and a secured moveable ballot drop box will be available.

Residents who want assurance their ballots have been counted may sign up for a tracking system called “Where’s My Ballot” through the Secretary of State’s office at myballot.sos.ca.gov.

They will be notified when their ballots are counted by their preference of text, phone call, or email.

Information: 387-8300 or visit sbcountyelections.com.

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