From Banned to Beautiful–How Madison Transformed Its Defunct Dropboxes into Purposeful Public Art

By Christina Lorey

October 20, 2022

After a controversial state Supreme Court decision, Madison rehires original artist to redesign its 14 ballot boxes with information on how to vote.

City leaders tried to make it easier for you to vote. Before the 2020 election, they installed more than a dozen boxes around town where voters could drop their absentee ballots.

If it only were that easy…

In July, the conservative-controlled state Supreme Court sided with the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), ruling dropboxes are not allowed under state law and voters must individually deliver absentee ballots to their clerk’s office. The controversial 4-3 decision effectively left the drop boxes purposeless. Until now.

This month, Madison partnered with the same New York-based artist who initially painted the boxes with the colors of the Madison flag to transform them into a new public art project with purpose. Now, each box is painted black with an eye-catching quote as well as information about the recent change to absentee voting and resources on how to vote. The project also takes aim at the proven lie that the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin was “stolen.”

“This decision is a step backward in our efforts to make it easy, safe, and secure for every eligible voter to cast their ballot,” the boxes read. 

They also display the Sojourner Truth quote: “Truth is powerful and will prevail.”

From Banned to Beautiful–How Madison Transformed Its Defunct Dropboxes into Purposeful Public Art

Ballots that arrive after Election Day are not counted in Wisconsin. The message on the dropboxes also remind voters of this, warning they must mail their ballot through the US Postal Service in time for it to be delivered before Election Day or drop it off at the city clerk’s office by Nov. 7.


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.



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