Nov 6, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Over 140 threats against election workers recorded in Maricopa County

 The Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov. 3.

The Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov. 3. Photo: Patrick Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

The Maricopa County elections office recorded at least 140 threatening and hostile communications against election workers between July 11 and Aug. 11 this year, according to 1,600 pages of documents obtained by Reuters.

Why it matters: Many of the threats against the workers in one of Arizona's most politically competitive counties stemmed from conspiracy theories related to the 2020 presidential election and have been previously promoted by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

The messages, many of which came in the form of emails and social media posts, asserted false claims of fake ballots, fixed voting machines and corruption among election officials in the county during the last election, according to Reuters.

  • "You will all be executed," read one of the threats, while another read, "Wire around their limbs and tied & dragged by a car."
  • They also included threats to circulate workers' personal information online, including photographs of them arriving to work.

What they're saying: Stephen Richer, the county's recorder, told Reuters in an interview that temporary election workers have quit their jobs after being accosted outside the main ballot-counting center.

  • Both Richer and Bill Gates, the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, have condemned threats against election workers and the drop box watchers.
  • Gates also recently warned that Arizona's lengthy vote-counting process and close races could inspire disinformation campaigns after Election Day. He added that county election officials are ready to publicly correct the record with regular press conferences if that occurs, Axios' Jeremy Duda reports.

The big picture: The Department of Justice and FBI previously identified Arizona as one of the top states for threats to election officials and poll workers, according to a letter to elections officials obtained by Axios.

  • The threats come alongside concerns and complaints of acts of voter intimidation in the county after people dressed in tactical gear supervised drop boxes for mail-in ballots.
  • A federal judge in Arizona issued a temporary restraining order last week against activists gathering around the drop boxes.
  • The Justice Department weighed in on lawsuits against at least one of the monitoring groups by filing a statement of interest in late October. The group has claimed it is trying to prevent purported voter fraud and is protected by the First Amendment.

Go deeper: Extremist groups are going local to disrupt the midterms

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