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The election went remarkably well. Here's how to make the next one even better.

We haven't yet seen evidence that would cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election — even with the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, the threat of foreign interference, civil unrest and greater turnout than any time since 1900. That counts as a resounding success.

Once the final tallies are certified, we need to thank the election administrators and poll workers whose heroic efforts preserved American democracy. After that, we need to assess what worked best and what needs to improve, so we can identify achievable steps to make future elections even more secure.

Based on what we know so far, here are five things that should be on the U.S. elections to-do list:

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The ballot drop box outside the Board of Elections in rural Athens County in southeastern Ohio.

Why, Ohio? Drop boxes kicked to the curb in another battleground.

There won't be any more ballot drop boxes set up in Ohio, assuring more hassle for as many as 700,000 people who might still cast their votes remotely and early in one of the essential presidential battlegrounds.

Voting rights groups announced Thursday they were giving up the legal battle they've been waging since the summer to get many more bins dispatched. They said it has become pointless to ask the Supreme Court to reverse an earlier appeals court ruling restricting the boxes to just one place in each of Ohio's 88 counties.

Drop boxes for completed absentee ballots have sprouted in plenty of places across the country that have never seen them before, a response by election officials to anxieties about voting in person and relying on the mail during the coronavirus pandemic. But as with so much else about election rules this fall, many of those initial accommodations (including for Ohio's primary) have run into stiff opposition from Republicans claiming the potential for fraud.

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More than two-thirds of Colorado voters return their ballots in person, citing the convenience of voting locations.

How Colorado became the model for running an election by mail

All across the country, the consistent theme of this presidential year has been turmoil.

A confusingly huge field of candidates vying to take on a norm-busting incumbent was just the start. The normally boring rules for conducting elections have been in high-profile upheaval since the coronavirus outbreak took hold in the spring, as most states grappled with how to steer voting away from polling places and got whipsawed between claims of voter suppression by Democrats and allegations of voter fraud by Republicans.

But in the eye of the tempest has been this rare note of agreement: When it comes to running a fair, efficient and calm election that's reliant on mail ballots, the place to look for guidance is Colorado.

Its politics remain just purple enough to assure plenty of bare-knuckle battling for the slightest electoral advantage. But the centerpiece of the Rocky Mountain region has still emerged as a national model — during the pandemic and beyond — for states looking to mostly remote elections as a way to produce routinely high turnout and consistently low levels of dispute after even the closest contests.

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