Six cases of alleged voter intimidation at drop box locations in Arizona have been referred to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said on Monday, October 24, with early voting options open for nearly two weeks across the state, reports ABC News.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, asked on Monday about voter intimidation at Arizona ballot drop boxes, said, “The Justice Department has an obligation to guarantee a free and fair vote by everyone whose qualified to vote and will not permit voters to be intimidated.”
Five recorded complaints obtained by ABC News occurred between October 17 and October 22, outside ballot drop boxes at 501 S. 3rd Ave. in Phoenix and at the Mesa Juvenile Court, both in Maricopa County.
Most described an instance of groups of individuals loitering near the drop boxes, filming and photographing voters as they returned their ballots and in some cases, taking photographs of the voters’ license plates. One report described individuals dressed in “camo-clad gear” and photos from election officials show at least two armed individuals outside the Mesa drop box Friday, October 21.
“As we were getting up to our car, two individuals took pictures of our license plate and our car. I got out and asked what they were doing. They claimed they were taking pictures for “election security” and I took pictures of them to report them to the DOJ for voter intimation and harassment. As we were pulling out, they continued to film my wife, myself, and our car,” the complaint said
Early voting in the 2022 midterm elections began on October 12 in Arizona, where 402,000 early ballots have been returned so far, according to data compiled by the secretary of state from 15 county recorders. Aside from voters and credentialed government or party officials, individuals must stay at least 75 feet away from secure drop box locations, according to Arizona law.
“There’s a group of people hanging out near the ballot dropbox filming and photographing my wife and I as we approached the dropbox and accusing us of being a mile [mule],” another incident report, filed on October 17 at 6:40 p.m. at Mesa Juvenile Court said. “They took photographs of our license plate and of us and then followed us out the parking lot in one of their cars continuing to film.”
Accusations of being “mules” is in reference to a widely debunked, far-right film, ‘2,000 Mules,’ which falsely alleges that individuals hired by Democrats stuffed numerous drop boxes with potentially fake absentee ballots during the 2020 election.
Hobbs’ office in its release on Monday also referred at least one report of election worker harassment to law enforcement over the weekend after she and two other employees were sent a menacing and vulgar message: “Remember the French Revolution of 1799??….” it said.
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone told reporters on Monday, October 24, that his office also is working with the DOJ to identify which cases qualify as voter intimidation. Since voting began, he said his team has written two criminal reports and submitted those to the county prosecutor.
Research contact: @abcnews