Post office boxes are disappearing in Atlantic City and at the moment no one seems to know precisely why, and what the immediate impact will be to a VBM-heavy process created by COVID-19.
“We’re completely unaware of it,” said Deputy County Clerk Michael Sommers.
He offered speculation about why it was happening, which seemed reasonable enough. But the sight of uprooted mailboxes in a VBM election with Nov. 3rd looming, left local residents dismayed for the moment.
Sommers said the postal service is removing boxes because the traditional four-legged devices are not tamper free. They can also easily be removed. The Board of Elections is adding a second tamper-free, bolted in cement, 24-7 camera-surveilled box in the city – one of 13 countywide.
“I think they’re covering their bases [to avoid potential fraud],” said Sommers.
The postal service supposedly is intending to replace the standard boxes with “anti-fishing” units.
What is the time lag between the boxes’ removal and the installation of their replacements?
The election is technically in progress.
Critically, it’s a walking town, and voters’ ease of access to mailboxes is critical.
“It’s confusing, especially considering the time frame and the timing of the removal of the boxes,” said Durwood Pinkett, longtime Atlantic City Democratic Party operative. “Most people don’t walk out of their neighborhoods. Automobile transportation is at a minimum.”
As it stands, there is only one bolted tamper-free box at 1333 Atlantic Avenue.
“You’re talking about 24,000 voters with one drop box,” Pinkett said. “It is extremely alarming.”
InsiderNJ reached out to the U.S. Postal Service but could not immediately get an answer.
“Obviously any reports of mailboxes being removed is alarming and infuriating,” Atlantic County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Suleiman told InsiderNJ.
“I became aware of this issue earlier this morning and we are currently looking into it,” e added. “Given the outrageous vitriol and willingness of partisan hacks to cheat the will of the people, it’s extremely important for each and every one of us to remain vigilant in the upcoming days. If anyone has information or hears about mailboxes being removed, please contact the ACDC immediately. Our democracy is worth saving and we all have a role to play in this fight.”
Evelynn “Lynn” Caterson, Chairperson of the Atlantic County Board of Elections, noted that Atlantic County residents have not yet received their ballot to vote in the Nov. 3rd elections – and are slated to get them this week, per the clerk’s office.
“All 13 drop boxes will be operational Thursday,” she said. “I do know some of the dropboxes needed a cement pad. I know they were fixing at least three or four of them and checking the 24-7 security cameras.”
She said they should all be in place by Thursday, in time to receive the first sealed submissions from Atlantic County voters.