After a series of incidents involving people keeping watch on the boxes and taking video of voters, the sheriff in metropolitan Phoenix stepped up security around ballot drop boxes on Monday.
According to photos shared on social media, people that were watching the boxes and voters showing up to vote have covered their license plates.
According to the state officials, they’re apparently inspired by lies about the 2020 election that have turned the boxes a hotbed for conspiracy theories alleging that people illegally collected and deposited ballots in them.
Deputies in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, responded on Friday when two masked people showed up at a drop box carrying guns and wearing bulletproof vests while the office of Arizona State Secretary received six cases of potential voter intimidation to the state attorney general and the DOJ and a threatening email sent to the state elections director.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, whose office has referred two incidents to county prosecutors for potential criminal charges, stressed it’s absurd that he’s forced to dedicate a considerable amount of resources just to give people confidence that they can cast a vote safely.
The Maricopa County recorder Stephen Richer and Bill Gates, chairman of the county board of supervisors, said in a joint statement over the weekend that not only they’re not increasing election integrity, but the uninformed vigilantes outside Maricopa County’s drop boxes are leading to voter intimidation complaints.
This year, Arizona has some of the highest-profile midterm races in the country, including a Senate race that could tip the balance of power in Congress.
Several drop box watchers in Maricopa County last week were allegedly with Clean Elections USA, whose founder, Melody Jennings, said watchers should sit in a visible place to act as a “human shield” to deter potential ballot “mules” from coming to drop boxes.
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