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Arizona sheriff steps up security around ballot drop boxes

“It’s ridiculous that I put significant resources into every day just to give people confidence that they can vote safely,” Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said at a news conference. Penzone said his office has referred two cases to the county attorney for possible criminal charges.

In 2020, the movie 2,000 Mules debunked false allegations that former President Donald Trump had cheated, and the 2,000 mules debunked the drop-boxes where people illegally collected and mailed ballots. It has become a hotbed of conspiracy theories that claim without evidence.

Election security experts and Trump’s own National Security and Justice Department officials said there was no wrongdoing enough to change the outcome of the 2020 election. Dozens of lawsuits filed after the election have been dismissed, many by Trump-appointed judges.

Arizona, the state with the narrowest victory margin for President Joe Biden two years ago, now has some of the country’s most high-profile midterm elections, including a Senate election that could change the balance of power in Congress. It is done.

“The ignorant vigilantes outside Maricopa County’s mailboxes are not improving the health of the election,” said Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and County Oversight Board Chairman Bill Gates in a joint statement last weekend. said in a statement. “Rather, they are leading to voter intimidation complaints.”

Both Ritchie and Gates are Republicans.

Voters who filed for Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs claim they were filmed and in some cases followed by people guarding drop-boxes.

“Two people took pictures of our license plate and car as we approached it,” wrote one voter. “I went out and asked what they were doing. I took the picture to report to the ministry.”

Asked at an unrelated event Monday whether he was concerned about the threats reported in states such as Arizona and whether the Department of Justice would be involved, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Department of Justice “does not have any We have a duty to ensure a free and fair vote for all rights holders.” Eligible to vote and not allowing voters to be intimidated. ”

A group of dropbox observers who were spotted filming Dropbox in Maricopa County last week are part of Clean Elections, a group gathering teams to watch Dropbox in several states this midseason. He told a local reporter that he was participating in the USA.

The group’s founder, Melody Jennings, said in a podcast interview last month that the group is looking for 10 volunteers to work day and night to shoot video for Dropbox across the country.

Jennings said she wants volunteers to stay away from return boxes and to comply with local laws. But she added that they should sit prominently as a “human shield” to keep potential ballot “mules” from coming to the drop-box.

Despite allegations made in the film about the 2020 election, there is no evidence to support the idea that a network of Democratic-affiliated ballot “mules” conspired to collect and deliver ballots to drop-boxes.

Two left-wing advocacy groups filed suit against Clean Elections USA on Monday, alleging that their vote-monitoring activities violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. The Arizona Retired American Alliance and Vote Latinos are appealing to the US District. A court in Phoenix has banned the group from gathering on the postbox property and photographing voters.

Arizona Sen. Kelly Townsend earlier this year praised and encouraged “all the vigilantes who want to camp in these mailboxes,” but on Monday said on Twitter that wearing tactical gear while looking at the mailboxes “It could be seen as a threat to voters,” he said.

“Please don’t,” Ms. Townsend wrote.

Sheriff Penzone appealed to the public to respect everyone’s right to vote and to let law enforcement officers investigate suspected violations of the law. He said the focus on securing elections has taken resources away from criminal investigations.

“But people have to cheat, if that’s what we have to do to protect our democracy, so we come to the polls and babysit,” said Penzone, a Democrat. said Mr.

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