A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Ballots: A big new drop box for N. Albany

Written January 20th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Take a look at this supersized ballot drop box Benton County has installed outside the North Albany IGA supermarket.

This big new ballot drop box caught my eye in the North Albany Shopping Center the other day. What’s the story here, I wondered.

Benton County Clerk James Morales and his staff, including elections supervisor Darla Rush, have had their hands full adjusting their systems to reflect the new legislative and congressional district lines. On Thursday they also were on their last day in their old courthouse offices, preparing to move starting today (Jan. 20) to the Kalapuya Building on Research Way.

Still, they responded to my inquiry about this box, which replaced a smaller one and is one of three that were installed this week. The other two are in the Timberhill Shopping Center and in front of the courthouse in Corvallis.

“These boxes were given to Benton County by Lane County,” Morales told me. “All we had to do was pick them up, give them a fresh paint job and coordinate installation.”

In addition to the three big ones with their drive-up “snorkels,” the gift also included four snorkel-equipped postal-size units. The county is placing those in Monroe, near Lincoln School in Corvallis, in Adair Village, and at the new county offices at 4500 Research Way.

The North Albany ballot drop site had been popular, Darla Rush said, and election workers had to empty it frequently. The bigger boxes won’t have to be emptied quite so often. (That’s why one of the new big ones is at the courthouse. The staff will no longer be there to empty it several times a day.)

In North Albany, if drivers want to drop ballots there from their cars without a passenger’s help, the orientation of the box and its snorkel will require them to drive on the wrong side of the shopping center street. The county is aware of that, Rush says, but there was no other secure place to put the box.

Security is a big consideration. The location has lighting and camera coverage.

The new boxes will see their first use in the primary election, which ends May 17.

Why do we still have drop boxes at all when we no longer even need stamps to mail our ballots back? A new law also says ballots postmarked by election day are to be counted if they arrive up to seven days later, eight days if mailed from outside the county.

Well, while the post office is reliable, you really lose control of your ballot when you put it in the mail. It has to go to Portland first, and who knows how and by whom it is handled on the way. When you drop it in an official, locked box like this one, you know that the next person to touch it will be a deputy or elections employee of the county clerk. (hh)

13 responses to “Ballots: A big new drop box for N. Albany”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    As far as mailing your ballot, the Secretary of State website shows when it was received. In Marion County, the County Clerk shows the same information.

    The bigger issue is with the Republican Party. Across many states, the GOP is fighting tooth and nail to restrict the use of drop boxes and mail in ballots. Especially drive-through drop off sites.

    The Oregon GOP has not inserted themselves into that kind of election manipulation, much to their credit.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      Bob, you need to pay more attention.

      “It’s not who can vote, but who gets to count the vote. Who counts the vote—that’s what this is about.”

      Sound familiar? Your party leader wants the Feds (unelected federal bureaucrats) to take over elections.

      This would strip states of their election responsibilities as designated by the U.S. Constitution.

      And your party leader also tells us that there were no patterns of irregularities or unconstitutional actions in the last election.

      Huh? A solution looking for a problem?

      I do applaud the President for his accidental honesty.

    • John Hartman says:

      The GOP is no longer interested in what’s best for the citizenry. Now they focus solely on suppressing citizen involvement. This is what happens when that party became a cult of personality. Only when a political party is bereft of ideas do they shift focus and work to enhance voter suppression. The party of Mark Hatfield and Bob Packwood has been subsumed by fakirs, retrograding into the party of grievance.

      • HowlingCicada says:

        Take the two Republicans you name, add Tom McCall and Gordon Smith, and you have more political diversity than among almost all Republicans in Congress today. Would any of these four have voted to nominate Trump? I doubt it.

        “””Dan Lavey, who has advised and run campaigns for leading Oregon Republican candidates, including former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith and past GOP nominees for governor Chris Dudley and Knute Buehler, took to Facebook on Aug. 13 to explain why he’ll vote for former Vice President Joe Biden in November.”””

        • Hasso Hering says:

          Given the regrettable history of comments on this site, I should not be surprised that a completely anodyne report on the placement of a ballot drop box should prompt political sniping. My advice: Give it a rest, people. It’s just a box, placed by a county department with an unblemished record of competent and impartial administration of Oregon’s election procedures. This has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans or any other political faction. It’s just a box that adds one little element of convenience to the already incredibly convenient voting system we have. (hh)

  2. Katherine says:

    Mail in voting is safe and convenient. We were the first state to have vote by mail in a federal election. If you have ever had the opportunity to watch the ballot count in either Linn or Benton county, as I have, you will see first hand the safeguards used in each step of the process. The country could learn a lesson from Linn County Oregon on how to run a safe and secure election.

  3. MarK says:

    Being a heavily Democratic area, they need the larger boxes for their ballot stuffing.

  4. centrist says:

    Saw that beast while on a supply run. Not only does it look impregnable, the anchor points aren’t visible.
    Having lived in a part of the state where 60 inches of rain was considered a drought, I applauded being able to vote from my dining table. Plunked the ballot in a secure box at city hall on the way home.
    Seems to me that those most opposed to mail voting are upset that they can’t manipulate the outcome.
    Ahh well.

  5. CHEZZ says:

    Another case of complain and remain.

  6. GregB says:

    I saw that big shiny ballot box the other day. I thought to myself, why do we need such a big ballot box in N. Albany? Now I know that it was a free-b from Lane county. Thanks for the update on it.

  7. Cheryl P says:

    I looked at some of the new voter laws that the liberals are whining about…seriously?!?

    How exactly is mailing unsolicited mail-in ballots a bad thing? Mail gets stolen all the time, I’d be pretty pissed to go to vote and find out that “I” had already voted by mail.

    How is imposing stricter signature requirements for mail-in ballots as bad thing? Again, mail gets stolen all the time. And yes, some people’s signatures change with age…which is why one should reregister to vote every four years like we once did.

    How is imposing ID requirements a bad thing? You can’t get a job without ID, you can’t open a bank account without ID, you can’t cash a check without ID.

    How is eliminating election day registration a bad thing? It’s not someone announced out of the blue…we’re going to hold the presidential election tomorrow. This is part of being an adult.

    How is banning giving water and snacks to votes in line a bad thing? Seriously…who needs snacks and why not have water fountains (better for the environment).

    How is increasing the number of voters per precinct a bad thing? I had to look this one up since I wasn’t sure what it was all about. So under the previous law, precincts were limited 3000 persons. If the area exceeded 3000 persons, then new precinct would have to be established and all the others would have to shifted around. So by increasing the number of persons, some who used to walk two blocks to vote doesn’t have to drive five miles. And it allows for natural population growth.


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