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VERIFY: Is it OK to return my ballot already? How often are dropboxes emptied?

With more people than ever voting by mail due to the coronavirus pandemic, people have asked about the safety of turning in ballots early.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — As ballots arrive at homes across the Inland Northwest, the KREM 2 Verify Team is working hard to answer your questions about making sure your vote is counted.

A viewer named Karen recently reached out to ask, “Is it okay to put [a] ballot into a [a] ballot drop box as soon as its ready?” She also asked, “Are those [ballot drop] boxes emptied before Nov 3rd?”

Sources

To Verify the answers to these questions, KREM 2’s Mark Hanrahan reached out to Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton and Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon.

Is it OK to put a ballot into a dropbox now? How often are they emptied?

In Spokane County, ballots were mailed out last week and people are already starting to return them, either through the mail or by dropping them in one of the two-dozen ballot drop boxes located around the county.

“It is absolutely safe to start putting the ballots in the drop boxes right now,” Dalton said. “And, those drop boxes are emptied on a frequent basis. Most of them are emptied daily, except for the weekends”

As Election Day draws nearer, the ballot boxes are emptied more frequently, Dalton said.

What about Idaho? 

Unlike Washington, it’s not a vote-by-mail state. However, Kootenai County Clerk Jim Brannon said that a growing number of residents in the North Idaho county are choosing to vote via absentee ballot.

“There are those that want to vote at the polls, of course,” Brannon said. “However, we are seeing more absentees than we’ve ever seen.”

As of Monday, Brannon said that roughly 44,000 Kootenai County residents had requested an absentee ballot. That’s more than triple the roughly 12,000 requested in 2016, Brannon said.

Kootenai County residents can either mail the absentee ballots back or return them to the ballot drop box located at the Kootenai County Elections Office.

“Well, we require every ballot to be returned to the Kootenai County Elections Office,” Brannon said. “And, we empty the boxes literally every half-hour.”

Verdict

We can verify that, yes, it is safe to drop your ballot in a drop box as soon as you fill it out. Furthermore, ballot drop boxes in Spokane and Kootenai Counties are emptied on a regular basis before November 3rd.

Do you have something you’d like verified? Email us at verify@krem.com or leave Mark a voicemail at 509-838-7334.