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Maricopa County sheriff increases security at ballot drop-off locations

State leaders say voter intimidation allegations continue to grow.

MESA, Ariz. — Voter intimidation allegations continue to rise in the valley, forcing the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to step in.

“It’s absurd to think that any individual can’t go to a vote box and drop their ballot,” Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said at a news conference Monday. 

The announcement comes after recent incidents of voters claiming they've been harassed by people while turning in their ballots. Penzone said he is increasing patrols at ballot drop box locations.  

“We're gonna fight and we're gonna work and we're gonna do everything necessary to keep people safe," he said. 

At the news conference, Penzone showed frustration about these situations, saying it will take away resources for other crimes in the county. 

“The more folks there are creating problems, the more deputies you're gonna see on the streets focused on this versus burglaries and crimes against children and robberies," Penzone said. "All the stuff we should be doing.”

RELATED: 2 armed individuals in tactical gear reported standing outside Mesa ballot box

RELATED: 'It is unacceptable': Alleged case of voter intimidation in Maricopa County under investigation

He also discussed a recent case in Mesa where two armed people were seen wearing tactical gear and covering their faces. Penzone said they could face criminal charges. 

The Arizona Secretary of State also released new claims of voter intimidation cases., saying six have been sent to the Department of Justice to be examined. The alleged incidents also took place at that same ballot drop box in Mesa near Baseline Road and Mesa Drive. The other happened in Phoenix.

Voters are aware of these cases. 

Selma Kendrick told 12News she was nervous to drop off her ballot at the Mesa location. Especially after seeing a few people in the parking lot sitting in lawn chairs with cameras out. 

"I had my phone in case somebody harassed me so I could call 911," she said.

Those seen watching the ballot box declined to speak with 12News. At first, the group said they were there to watch one of their cars that was parked there but then later said they were watching the ballot box.


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