JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mail ballot drop boxes in Florida are getting a makeover this year and the change is costing taxpayers.
It’s the result of a new state law passed earlier this year.
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This is the second year in a row Florida lawmakers have passed an election reform bill.
While some of those changes have gotten a lot of attention and criticism, the renaming of mail ballot drop boxes hasn’t.
It may seem like a benign change, but the price tag on the rebranding exercise may surprise you.
In the 2020 election mail ballot, drop boxes provided Florida voters with convenience and a sense of personal safety from the pandemic.
But this year, thanks to a change in state law, they’ll now be referred to as “secure ballot intake stations.”
“I haven’t met a citizen that calls it a secure ballot intake station and I don’t even know what that conjures up in their mind when they see that,” said Duval County’s Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan.
The boxes you’ll put your ballot in are the exact same ones used in the last election, but Hogan told us the rebranding cost his office about $5,600.
“Just got new stickers,” said Hogan.
Assuming the cost is similar statewide, we calculated Floridians saw roughly 125,000 of their tax dollars go toward those stickers.
And that money comes out of the pockets of local taxpayers.
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“Tallahassee has a penchant as it relates to unfunded mandates,” said Hogan.
But an even bigger cost has come from a new requirement for all secure ballot intake stations to be supervised while in use.
“And I have two people sitting beside them and they’re there all day. And so, you start multiplying that out a number of days, 14 days, it’s a lot of money,” said Hogan.
Hogan added, all the additional money is going toward a method of voting that appears to be falling out of favor with voters.
“Several of our offices have only seen one or two in the whole day, so that’s a lot of money per-ballot,” said Hogan. “There are a lot of things that we think could be as effective and less expensive, but we don’t get to call those shots.”
Hogan did make clear that he believes there were worthwhile and important election security changes made in the reforms passed over the last two years; he just doesn’t see the name change as one of them.
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