Pima County updates its security in anticipation of 2024 election cycle
TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Pima County has been awarded a small grant, $54,166 from the Department of Homeland Security, to update its elections security.
It’s the first time DHS has given out money for elections security but after the threats and intimidation to elections workers nationwide, it’s likely needed.
It was a scary time for the Maricopa County elections workers following the 2020 election. While elections workers counted the votes inside, large protests took place outside.
Some protestors actually walked into the election offices where votes were being counted and had to be led out by sheriff’s deputies.
Against that backdrop, Pima County is preparing for 2024. “We’ve seen this in multiple elections where you have masses of people showing up and protesting and even like threatening or threatening to harm these public servants, which is absolutely unconscionable,” said District 2 Supervisor Dr. Matt Heinz.
Under the grant, the county will install bars on the windows in the recorder’s office, windows which lead into the area where signatures are verified and ballots sorted.
It will add bulletproof glass in the elections department door, which leads to the public viewing area where all the ballots are placed in the machines for counting.
It will add cameras to cover what are now blind spots for the workers and install monitors so workers can see the parking lot and lobbies in real-time.
“If this provides our employees a modicum of reassurance that they feel protected, they have a big job to do and just want them to do their job and feel comfortable doing it,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Adelita Grijalva.
Many election workers and elections directors have resigned recently because of threats to themselves and their families, so the upgrades are not just to make them feel safer, but to keep them on the job. “Our employees have to feel safe, and we’ve had across the nation, election departments get targeted in different cities,” Grijalva said. “And we’re not expecting that in Pima County and we don’t want that.”
County elected leaders have provided more security in the process in recent years to protect vote centers, casting a ballot and the transfer of ballots, but this is a first to protect the actual election offices.
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