The Fight Over Absentee Ballots Intensifies Around Drop Boxes

Earlier this year, Mr. Trump wrote a message on Twitter packing multiple false claims about drop boxes into a single post, which Twitter later removed.

He did not always feel this way: Mr. Trump encouraged his supporters to use drop boxes in 2016, tweeting, “#VoteTrump at clerk’s offices & 185 ballot drop boxes in #ORPrimary!”

The use of drop boxes, like all matters in American elections, varies widely from state to state. Some states, like Tennessee, ban drop boxes altogether, and others place extreme limits on their use. Some leave it up to cities, while others rely on drop boxes for the majority of their ballots cast.

Not all Republicans are opposed to their use. In the spring, the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, installed 144 boxes around the state after elections officials warned that poll workers, in rural counties and elsewhere, were refusing to staff the June primaries out of fear of contracting the virus.

“We knew we had to do something,” said Jordan Fuchs, the deputy secretary of state. “And if people were concerned about the post office, well, this was a way to completely alleviate those concerns.”

In Ohio, Frank LaRose, the Republican secretary of state, said that he personally wanted to expand drop boxes beyond one per county, but that state law was preventing him from doing so. Multiple judges in Ohio have delivered opinions saying Mr. LaRose is free to expand drop boxes and other locations, but he insists he still is forbidden by state law.

“People who want to vote in person are going to be stuck waiting in a line because of this asinine, asinine decision to have the only place where you use a drop box be also the only place they can vote in person,” said David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.