New drive-up drop box coming for DeKalb County voters

New ballot box will allow voters to securely return ballot without leaving car

DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Tasha Sims told the DeKalb County Board Committee of the Whole on June 12, 2024, a new vote-by-mail dropbox will be installed on county property ahead of the next election.

SYCAMORE – DeKalb County voters will have a new way to drop off their vote-by-mail ballots in future elections, DeKalb County Clerk Tasha Sims said during Wednesday’s DeKalb County Committee of the Whole meeting.

The DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder’s Office is tasked with, among many other operations, supervising and administering elections in the county. The office manages voter registration, facilitates the training of election judges, and is responsible for election equipment.

Sims, who was elected to the office in November 2022, said DeKalb County will have a permanent ballot box for the upcoming election. Voters who opt for a vote-by-mail ballot will be able to drive up to the ballot box, which Sims said will be positioned outside of the DeKalb County Administrative Building, 110 E. Sycamore St. in Sycamore.

“I know as a mother that I’m always looking for ways to stay in my vehicle with all my kids and not have to drag them out everywhere, so having the ability to drive up to the box, put it in, I feel would be an added convenience for our voters,” said Sims, a Republican. “I’ll be interested to see how much access that will get.”

DeKalb County Board Chair Ellingsworth Webb, a Democrat from District 9, has worked as an election judge in the county for the past 16 years and said he thinks Sims’ decision to procure the ballot box was “an excellent idea.”

“Other counties and cities in the state of Illinois have had those for many years now, so it’s a natural progression for us to have here in DeKalb,” Webb said.

The ballot box will be open to voters, without interruption beginning 40 days before the Nov. 5 general election. Sims said the box, which will be placed in concrete, will have round-the-clock surveillance.

Sims said the ballot box, sitting in a DeKalb County Facilities maintenance garage, was purchased at the end of 2023.

“I had the funds there at the end of the year,” Sims said. “I wanted to get it done so we weren’t spending too much money during a double election year. I asked [for] it to be ready by Sept. 1 because we will have vote-by-mail and early voting starting Sept. 26.”

Two judges, representing both parties, will be required to pick up the ballots dropped off in the ballot box every day between Sept. 26 and Nov. 5, jobs that Sims said her office will need to pay for. The ballot box will close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, like the rest of the polls, and speaking to DeKalb County Board members, she gave assurances that ballots dropped in the box would be safe.

“Multiple cameras will be on it, and it’s the same cameras the sheriff’s department uses, so they are much clearer than cameras used to be,” Sims said. “And also, the sheriff’s department will be within sight of that.”

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