Maricopa County sheriff says it’s ‘absurd’ voters can’t drop off ballots without being harassed
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone spoke on the topic of election security Monday afternoon, following reports of possible voter intimidation over the past several days.
“If your intentions are to draw focus on who you are and what you’re doing and try to passively intimidate others just trying to cast a vote then shame on you. Because they have as much of a right to get to that polling site and drop a ballot as you do,” Penzone said. “You can be intimidating without committing a crime. You can make people uncomfortable without committing a crime. It doesn’t make it okay just because it isn’t a crime.”
Penzone’s comments come after several reports of various individuals watching ballot boxes, often recording video of voters dropping off their ballots. Some of these ballot box watchers have been reported to be armed. One activist who spoke with Arizona’s Family said she was reportedly chased and grabbed while she was attempting to film one of the armed individuals’ license plates last Monday.
“I see that every day I’m dedicating a considerable amount of resources just to give people confidence they can cast a vote safely,” the sheriff said. “That is absurd.”
At one ballot box location, the Maricopa County Juvenile Court building in Mesa, there have been several complaints of voter intimidation. These individuals reported that they had experienced being recorded, harassed, and had photos taken of their license plates while they were attempting to drop off their ballots by people hanging around the ballot box. Sheriff’s deputies were called to the building on Friday after two armed men in tactical gear were reported to be parked nearby.
“It’s absurd to think that any individual can’t go to a vote box and drop their ballot, that you can’t go to a polling site and not be harassed,” the sheriff said.
Sheriff Penzone says all the attention that has to be placed on these sites is taking away from other important work deputies perform. “The more folks there are creating problems, the more deputies you’re going to see on the streets focused on this instead of burglaries and crimes against children and robberies and all the stuff we should be doing,” he said. “But we’ll come and babysit polling sites because people have to misbehave if that’s what we have to do to protect democracy.
“Help law enforcement focus on the priorities, stop draining our resources in places unnecessarily because there are people who need our help a heck of a lot more than watching you at a polling site because you’re watching somebody else.”
A joint statement was released this weekend from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and County Recorder about the intimidation reports:
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, Maricopa County election officials said that they were “running the most transparent election in Maricopa County’s history.” Officials say that verified, Election Protection volunteers will wear purple shirts and will answer any voters’ questions. The Secretary of State says that they are passing all complaints to the Department of Justice and the Arizona Attorney General who are investigating the complaints.
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