Fremont County will continue providing an absentee ballot drop box despite opposition from Secretary of State

    Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese says local absentee voters will still be able to submit their ballots at an election drop box this year, despite the Wyoming Secretary of State’s “strong disagreement” with the practice.

    “I do not believe drop boxes represent a safe, secure, or statutory basis for absentee voting,” Gray said in a press release this week. “For this reason, I believe they should not be used in the 2024 election and beyond.”

    Freese disagrees with Gray’s assessment, however, and says she will continue providing a ballot drop box for local absentee voters to use.


    “It’s a choice,” she said. “It’s local control.”


    Gray’s press release cited Wyoming Statute 22-9-113, which says completed absentee ballots must be “mailed or delivered” to the county clerk.

    “The plain language of (the statute) does not allow for unattended ballot drop boxes as a means of delivering absentee ballots,” the press release states.

    But Freese argued that drop boxes do provide a method for ballots to be “delivered.”


    “If I have an option for you to put it in the box and it’s secure, (that) is delivery,” she said. “That is my interpretation.”


    Some people who oppose ballot drop boxes believe they aren’t secure, Freese said, but she explained that Fremont County’s ballot drop box is permanently affixed to cement using anti-theft bolts, and it is monitored with 24-hour video surveillance that is available for viewing on multiple staff devices.

    “There are several people that watch the camera, and I review the camera daily (and keep) a log of the number of vehicles using the drop box,” Freese said. “We also run reports for the daily return by drop box to compare to the video log to make sure the numbers are the same.”


    If the door to a ballot drop box is open for more than 45 seconds, a warning goes out to staff members, and an audio message at the drop box site automatically announces that people should not loiter there, Freese said; staff can also use their phones to speak with anyone located at the drop box – or call law enforcement for assistance.

    “I’m serious … about the security,” Freese said.

    She even updated the drop boxes this year in response to concerns she heard from the public about the risk of arson at the sites.

    “They think people can put gasoline in there and burn up your ballots,” Freese said. “(So) this year …the slot for the ballots is limited to only allowing one ballot dropped in at a time.”



    Gray’s press release also indicated that he was rescinding the state directives that were issued during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing the use of ballot drop boxes.

    Those directives were a result of “the government’s flawed response to COVID-19,” Gray said, and they were issued “during a declared state of emergency that no longer exists and that has long ago expired.”

    But Freese pointed out that she started providing drop boxes locally about 10 years ago, before the pandemic, when she learned that the practice was “getting more people to vote” in other jurisdictions.

    “I feel that’s my job as county clerk, to figure out how every qualified voter (can vote in a) safe and secure manner,” she said. “That’s the way I view things. (I want to) make it accessible to more people.”

    In the 2022 General Election, Freese said 12.5 percent of local voters cast absentee ballots, and 20 percent of those absentee ballots were delivered via drop box.

    Fremont County will provide the following methods for voting in 2024, according to Freese:
    Election Day Voting: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Any voter may vote at any of the eight vote centers in Fremont County. Must show ID.
    Early Absentee Voting: May vote in person starting 28 days prior to an election in the basement of the Fremont County Courthouse (Election Office) in Lander. Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Must show ID.
    Absentee Voting: May request and pick up an absentee ballot in person at the Election Office, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, between July 23 and Aug. 19 (must show ID) or request an absentee ballot over the phone and have it mailed to them (must answer personal information). Return any absentee ballot by mailing it through the United States Postal Service in the return envelope provided, returning it to the Election Office, or placing it in the secure drop box located in the back parking lot of the Fremont County Courthouse in Lander.

    “We at Fremont County Elections want all qualified voters to have the choice of how they wish to vote,” Freese said. “Not all options appeal to all voters, but we hope voters will choose what is best for them and participate in one of our most fundamental rights we have as United States citizens—the right to VOTE!!”

    For more information call the Fremont County Clerk’s Office at 332-2405.


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