By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Details have to be hashed out, but the City of Keizer is getting a ballot drop box of some sort in the spring.
The announcement was made last Friday morning by Bill Burgess, Marion County Clerk, after looking at options for such a box at Keizer Civic Center. Outgoing Keizer City Councilor Mark Caillier gave Burgess and Connie Higgins, elections supervisor for Marion County, a tour around the civic center.
Caillier noted having a ballot drop box was part of the plan for the building when it opened in 2009, hence a small room currently used for storage near the building entrance.
“When we built this building, we tried to do this,” said Caillier, a retired Salem Police Department sergeant who is leaving his council seat next month. “They weren’t comfortable with the security.”
Caillier said a couple other options were proposed at the time and also rejected. On the weekend before last month’s election, Caillier and others doing some cleaning up around the building had to keep opening the doors so citizens could drop off ballots inside.
“We probably let 50 people in for dropping off ballots,” Caillier said. “That motivated us to bring this idea up again. Anything is better than that. We are just trying to provide options.”
Burgess said there are currently no 24-hour ballot drop boxes in Marion County. The elections building in Salem used to have one, but the county fire marshal ordered it removed due to traffic concerns.
“This sounds like a good idea,” Burgess said of putting up a box at Keizer Civic Center. “We can pursue this. This is exciting. This will be our first trial.”
Burgess wasn’t sure if the box would be inside or outside yet, but he offered to get a ballot drop box – which he estimated to cost about $4,000 – in exchange for Caillier rounding up volunteers to install it.
“I want to experiment with this,” Burgess said.
Higgins said the target would be to have something in place by March, so there would be time to inform voters of the change before a May election. She noted some 2,500 voters dropped off ballots at the civic center on election day. By having a box available 24 hours instead of just during working hours, Higgins figures the traffic will be spread out more.
“They won’t have to come just during office hours,” she said “That might decrease traffic during office hours. It looks like there are options out there.”
Caillier said he will share the information during Monday’s Keizer City Council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.