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Only Atlantic City’s ballot drop box has video surveillance from county

Murphy executive order requires 5 secure drop boxes in each county

By David Wildstein, June 27 2020 5:26 pm

Atlantic County is only providing security surveillance for a secure ballot drop box in Atlantic City and not the other four in suburban locations, a move that could put them in violation of Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order.

“Atlantic County only has control over the camera for the box located outside of 1333 Atlantic Ave., AC,” said Daniel Solt, the assistant county counsel.  “We are not the custodian of record for any video that might exist for any other ballot drop boxes.”

Solt was responding to an Open Public Records Act request filed by the New Jersey Globe for video surveillance footage of ballot drop boxes in Atlantic County.

Murphy ordered each county to install five drop boxes to allow voters a secure method of returning their vote-by-mail ballots without going through the U.S. Postal Service.

“The security of the ballot drop boxes and schedule of ballot pickup shall conform with standards set forth by the Secretary of State,” Murphy’s executive order stated.

The state Division of Elections procured and paid for the drop boxes and delivered them to each county, but the county Board of Elections was responsible for security of the boxes.

The guidelines set by the Secretary of State were based on best practices recommended by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a spokesperson said.

They require unstaffed, 24-hour ballot drop boxes have 24/7 video surveillance with a media storage device for recorded video.

The Atlantic City drop box is located in the Police & Fireman Plaza between City Hall and the County Administration building.

The other four drop-boxes are at municipal buildings in Atlantic City, Buena Vista Township, Egg Harbor Township, Galloway and Hammonton.

It is not immediately clear whether the other ballot boxes are covered by surveillance cameras maintained by municipal governments.

The estimated cost of each drop box is about $6,000.

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