ballot box
The new ballot box is at 2180 Milvia St. Photo: City of Berkeley

A new ballot drop-off box has been installed in downtown for the first time. The initiative was spearheaded by the Alameda County registrar of voters, which has put similar boxes in other cities.

The secure box is for “those who want to save a stamp on their absentee ballot, hand it in themselves, or wait until election day to finish it,” according to the city of Berkeley.

All Alameda County voters can use the box to deliver their votes. No postage is necessary for ballots placed in the drop box.

The ballot box in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Building at 2180 Milvia St., a block away from BART, and is available 24 hours a day. The city said it will be in service for every election, including the June 7 presidential primary.

The Alameda County registrar of voters will retrieve vote-by-mail ballots daily, ending with a final collection at 8 p.m. on election night Nov. 8.

The vote by mail period opened May 9 and closes at 8 p.m. June 7. The registrar has an online map of other drop-off boxes elsewhere in the county.

Previously, the only way to hand in a ballot in Berkeley was during office hours. Berkeley City Clerk Mark Numainville said voting by mail is steadily increasing locally, which would explain why the registrar is rolling out more drop boxes.

The registrar also reminds voters to remember to use the return envelope provided, and to sign the back of the return envelope.

Update, May 27: The county just released a letter with additional detail about how the boxes will work.

From the letter: “The Alameda County Registrar of Voters is setting up specially-designed and secure drop-boxes in each of the County’s 14 incorporated cities to accommodate voters who wish to drop off their Vote-By-Mail ballots, without having to pay postage, in the weeks leading up to the upcoming Presidential Primary Election on June 7.

“These new drop-boxes will be available to receive Vote-By-Mail ballots right up until the close of the polls at 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, June 7. In addition, the Registrar will set up a drive-through ‘Ballot Drop Stop’ outside the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse on Fallon Street in Oakland to allow voters to drop off Vote-By-Mail ballots without even having to leave their vehicles. The ‘Drop Stop’ will operate during the two weekends prior to the Primary Election – May 28-29 and June 4-5 – as well as on Election Day.

“Ballots will be picked up from the drop-boxes once each day leading up to Election Day. The drop-boxes – specially designed with a slot that prevents tampering – will be closed up immediately when the polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day. These new drop-off sites are in addition to three 24-hour drop-boxes that the Registrar has set up around the County government complex in downtown Oakland. Those drop-boxes are located in the lobby of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, 1225 Fallon Street; outside the Courthouse on the northeast corner of 12th and Oak Streets; and outside the Alameda County Administration building at 1221 Oak Street.

“To better meet the expected rush of submitted ballots in the days before the Primary Election, the ‘Drop Stop’ will be set up on Fallon Street outside the Courthouse on the two weekends prior to the election and on Election Day, June 7. The ‘Drop Stop’ will be operated by Registrar staff members who will assist voters dropping off their ballots. Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies will provide security at the ‘Drop Stop.’ Voters may request a Vote-By-Mail Ballot at any time from now until May 31st for the June 7 Presidential Primary Election by completing the application on the back of their sample ballot, by sending a written request to the Registrar of Voters or by completing the online Vote-By-Mail application at”

Read the complete letter, and read more on the Alameda County website.

To keep informed about Berkeley elections, read Berkeleyside — and catch up on Berkeley 2016 elections coverage so far.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...