Dozens of people protest outside Maricopa County elections center; sheriff highlights security

About 50 people protested at the Maricopa County ballot tabulation center and extra law enforcement was brought in just in case.
Published: Nov. 12, 2022 at 2:35 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 13, 2022 at 6:55 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — There was no repeat of the rowdy 2020 protests at the Maricopa County Election Command Center and Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said his deputies made sure of that on Saturday. About 50 people showed up around noon outside the fence at the elections building near Third Avenue and Lincoln Street, which is north of Buckeye Road. Some of the protesters wore ballistic vests and carried guns. Others had American flags and held up signs that said, “Kari Lake Won,” “Count The Votes,” and “Hobbs is a Cheat.” “I realized that election integrity is the most important thing to this state, to our nation, and to the world,” one protester said.

Arizonans have been waiting days for the mid-term election results and some are becoming skeptical of the process. “I want to see this state represented for each and every person who voted,” Amy Morgan said. Josiah Hall was one of two counter-protestors to show up. He said several people approached him. “I wanted to stand for truth and actually stand for these workers in there who have to work Veterans’ Day weekend just so they can count the vote accurately,” Hall said.

Penzone said more security was sent out to the area just in case things escalated and the rally got violent. However, everything remained peaceful and ballot counters inside continued their job. One person was checked out for heat exhaustion but no one was hurt, Penzone said. The protest dispersed after about an hour. About 30 journalists were there to document what happened. Penzone expressed his frustration with the protest during the 2:30 p.m. news conference. “Every time we see a larger gathering outside, that means I’m dedicating more deputies inside,” Penzone said. “I will not allow, and this is what I stand for, a threat to this facility, the votes or the people. We’re not going to wait for you to do harm and try to react to it. We’re going to prepare in advance so you can’t do harm.” He added the protest is undermining the sheriff’s ability to help out other people.

Still, having to worry about security isn’t something officials want to be doing during the election process. “It’s sad we have to think about these things in the context of an election in a democratic republic, but we do,” said Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates.

Gates added the vote count was moving “very efficiently,” and the hand count had started on Saturday, with three-person teams made up of representatives from both parties. Roughly 5,000 votes from five voting centers are being hand-counted to make sure the machines are working correctly. “Having eyeballs on everything, participating in it to ensure the machines are working the that they should,” Gates said.

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said misinformation is out of control regarding the ballot counting process.