An election ballot drop box is shown outside Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in downtown Phoenix on Sept. 25, 2020. Photo by Brandon Quester | AZCIR
The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office has forwarded four new reports of voter intimidation near ballot drop boxes to state and federal law enforcement, and it is asking the FBI to investigate a death threat sent to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and the state election director.
One voter, whose name was redacted from a report to the Department of Justice, said they were harassed by a group of people wearing camouflage who took photos of them when they were dropping off their ballot at the drop box at Maricopa County’s election center near downtown Phoenix.
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The people in camouflage wouldn’t give their names or what group they represented when the voter asked.
Another couple, both 70 years old, also reported being watched by a group of young men who said they were taking photos for election security as the couple dropped off their ballots at a box in Mesa last week.
Those complaints of intimidation, along with two others, were referred to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for further investigation.
Drop boxes have become a focus for Republicans and many on the far right following the film “2,000 Mules,” which made thoroughly debunked claims about election fraud that was supposedly perpetrated by “stuffing” ballot drop boxes with fraudulent ballots. The film’s makers have refused to provide evidence backing up their claims, and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich this month said both the FBI and the IRS should investigate nonprofit group True the Vote for alleged fraud related to the claims.
The death threat was a vulgarity-laden email that was sent to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, State Elections Director Kori Lorick and another person whose name was redacted.
The email threatened to remove Hobbs and Lorick from office if they messed with the integrity of Arizona elections. The sender also threatened to find their homes through the tax assessor’s website.
“Remember the French revolution of 1799,” the email ends, referring to a time when the French ruling class was overthrown in a coup.
“Voter intimidation is illegal, and no voter should feel threatened or intimidated when trying to vote,” Hobbs said in a news release. “Anyone attempting to interfere with that right should be reported. Voter harassment may include gathering around ballot drop boxes questioning voters, brandishing weapons, taking pictures of people voting and following or chasing voters who are attempting to drop off their ballots, and it can all be considered voter intimidation. It is unacceptable.”
These reports of voter intimidation come as several Republican candidates for office in the upcoming midterm, including Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem, encouraged followers to watch ballot boxes.
“I will continue to forward reports received to law enforcement, and I urge law enforcement to take action to protect voters from ongoing intimidation,” Hobbs said.
Voters who feel intimidated are encouraged to report it to their county recorder or to the Secretary of State’s Office by calling 1-877-THE-VOTE or by using the online form at Arizona.Vote. Anyone who believes that they are in danger should contact local law enforcement.
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