A John F. Kennedy High School alumnus has created an online resource to aid voters during election season. Over the summer, Merrick native Zack Hecht, of Ann Arbor, Mich., spent hours after work and on weekends compiling the locations of every ballot drop box and drop-off site in the country into a comprehensive, interactive website, dropoffballot.com.
“It was quite hard to find ballot drop box [and] drop-off locations for most states,” Hecht explained, “[so] I wanted to provide an easy-to-use and appealing application that could be used by the masses.”
For weeks, Hecht, a software engineer at Barracuda Networks, scraped every state website to identify which governments offered ballot drop-off locations at a statewide level. “Most didn't, so I had to go county by county in some states, and that was pretty meticulous,” he said.
Dropoffballot.com displays green and yellow circles that users can click on to find the nearest ballot drop box or drop-off location near them; it also lists the hours and dates of early-voting site in a given county. Users can alternately type their zip code in a window in the top right-hand corner to locate a drop box or drop-off location. The window also gives users an option to apply for an absentee ballot in their state or track their ballot if it was submitted by mail.
According to an Ann Arbor Observer article, Hecht’s website lists more than 100,000 ballot drop-off locations in 44 states and Washington, D.C. — “Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and South Carolina don’t allow no-excuse [absentee] voting,” he told the paper.
Hecht said he created dropoffballot.com to alleviate stress on the United States Postal Service during the 2020 election. “It seems . . . we are going to have a record turnout of voters, and I wanted to ensure their vote was securely dropped off and counted,” he said. “[This is] one of the first elections that I, and I think a lot of younger voters, finally started to pay attention to. You [see] headlines of Texas maybe turning blue, Florida, and it really goes to show that the younger generation and their votes mean something.”
Back home in Merrick, Hecht’s mother, Susan, made signs to advertise the website. They can be seen throughout Bellmore-Merrick, as well as in parts of upstate New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan, California and Virginia.
Susan said her son’s website is “a helpful tool” that provides important voting information that is otherwise hard to find. “He just wanted to do something that would make a difference,” she said. “I hope even in this small window of time that the word got out, and people were able to utilize it.”
Hecht said he programmed the website to be updated for future elections. “Everyone is doing their part this upcoming election, and I just wanted to contribute something as well,” he added.
Visit www.dropoffballot.com for more information.