MESA, Ariz. — Two armed individuals were seen dressed in tactical gear outside a Mesa ballot drop box on Friday, the Maricopa County Elections Department said.
The department said deputies from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office were called to the area. When they arrived, the two individuals reportedly left the area.
Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and County Recorder Stephen Richer released a joint statement on Saturday that read in full:
"We are deeply concerned about the safety of individuals who are exercising their constitutional right to vote and who are lawfully taking their early ballot to a drop box. Uninformed vigilantes outside Maricopa County's drop boxes are not increasing election integrity. Instead, they are leading to voter intimidation complaints. Although monitoring and transparency in our elections is critical, voter intimidation is unlawful. For those who want to be involved in election integrity, become a poll worker or an official observer with your political party. Don't dress in body armor to intimidate voters as they are legally returning their ballots. No matter how you choose to vote in Arizona, you should feel safe doing so. We will do everything possible in our roles to protect voters, election workers, and our free and fair elections.”
This incident comes only two days after a Mesa couple reported an alleged case of voter intimidation outside a ballot box located at the Maricopa County Juvenile Court.
The man and his wife say a group of people hanging out near the ballot box took pictures and video of the couple and accused them of "being a mule." They also said they took photos of their license plates.
The Secretary of State's office said that the case was sent to the Arizona Attorney Generals Office and the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation.
Maricopa County wants to remind voters that there are many options when returning an early ballot. Currently, the county has 12 Vote Centers and 16 drop boxes inside city and town facilities.
Voters also have the option to return an early ballot by mail. For a list of locations, visit the county's site.
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