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Philly has opened up its 17 drop box locations for mail-in ballots ahead of the midterms.
Philly has opened up its 17 drop box locations for mail-in ballots ahead of the midterms. Photo: Getty Images.

How to use Philly’s mail ballot drop boxes

The city has opened its mail ballot drop boxes for the 2022 elections. We’ve got you covered if you can and want to use one.

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With 26 days left until the midterm elections on Nov. 8, cities across the country are prepping for a busy election day. 

In Philadelphia, the city’s mail ballot drop boxes have opened as mail-in ballots are arriving to voters who have requested them. Philly currently has 17 drop boxes that have opened and many still do not understand how they work, where to go, and if it is a secure way of casting one's ballot. 

What is a drop box? Are they safe? 

Drop boxes are efficient, convenient, and most importantly, safe, for all voters who decide to use it as a method of voting for November. It is an easier option for voters that takes away the hardship of worrying about deadlines, mail delivery, and other factors. 

The drop boxes are similar to that of any normal postal box that citizens are used to seeing across neighborhoods in the city. Also in the same vein of a postal box, you just drop off your ballot as if it were normal mail. These boxes are also spread throughout the city, and have a sign that will reassure people that they are using the right box. 

On top of this, they are also a safe method of dropping off your ballot. Voter security has been an issue in recent years, but city officials are pushing this method as a way of counting ballots faster to not have a repeat of the 2020 Presidential election, in which it took over a week to find out the winner. 

The drop boxes are designed to protect the ballots inside as they are resistant to any kind of tampering or any other purposeful attacks. Any drop box that is tampered with, will only do damage to the outside, keeping everything inside protected. In Philly specifically, they are built into the ground and are permanently installed to withstand for example, a car trying to run it over or someone trying to set fire to it. For the latter, they actually have fire suppression systems built inside. 

Another safety measure is the 24-hour security cameras that are running around the perimeter of the drop box location. Overall, it is a safe and efficient way to cast your ballot, and its ease of use could encourage more people to vote as many find it hard to go to in-person polling on Election Day.

What are the deadlines? Do I need to use the drop box? 

Mail-in ballots are to be received by Philly election officials by 8 p.m. on Nov. 8, Election Day. If they are dropped off in the boxes by that deadline, it still counts as being on time. The drop boxes will be locked at 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. Through Election Day, the drop boxes are open 24/7 until the deadline. 

For those who choose not to use one of the 17 drop boxes in Philly can go to room 140 at City Hall to do a dropoff. 

You can also return your casted ballot through mail but with that method, you have to watch for deadlines more closely. 

Any Philly resident is allowed to use the drop boxes, with the only requirement being that you are not allowed to drop off any one else’s ballot, such as a spouse, or a best friend. There are exceptions to this rule, but only for those with disabilities who themselves authorize someone else to do it for them. 

Philly drop box locations 

The Philly City Commissioners Office, which is in charge of elections, has 17 locations across the city. These are as follows: 

-City Hall (south side of building), 1400 John F Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19107

-Riverview Place, 520 N. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19123 

-Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027, Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19130

-Markward Playground, 400 S. Taney St., Philadelphia, PA 19146 

-Pelbano Rec. Center, 8101 Bustleton Ave.,Philadelphia, PA 19152 

-Ford PAL Rec. Center, 609 Snyder Ave.,19148 

-Smith Playground 2100 S. 24th St., Philadelphia, PA 19145 

-Vogt Rec. Center, 4131 Unruh Ave.,Philadelphia, PA 19135 

-Independence Branch Library, 18 S. 7th St., Philadelphia, PA 19106 

-Dorothy Emanuel Rec. Center, 8500 Pickering St., Philadelphia, PA 19150

-Pleasant Playground, 305 Slocum St.,Philadelphia, PA 19119 

-Shissler Rec. Center, 1800 Blair St.,Philadelphia, PA 19125 

-Corporal Jimmy O'Connor Memorial Playground (formerly Chalfont Playground), 4382 Deerpath Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19154

-Stenton Playground, 4600 N. 16th St.,.Philadelphia, PA 19140 

-Shepard Rec. Center, 5700 Haverford Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19131 

-Kendrick Rec. Center, 5800 Ridge Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19128 

-Election Warehouse, 11311 Roosevelt Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19154 

Are more drop boxes going to be installed? 

According to the City Commissioners office, there are plans to put another drop box in the 3rd City Council District in Southwest and West Philly, but no official announcement has been made. 

The new locations that are planned, are to address some of the inequities that exist in regards to the distribution of drop boxes across the city that are inaccessible to certain groups. 

For example, city officials know that more white and Asian voters live near drop boxes in comparison to Black and Latinos. With that in mind, the office is planning to create pop-up sites in certain neighborhoods to eliminate the uneven distribution. 

For more information on the ballot drop boxes, you can visit philadelphiavotes.com.

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