Individuals armed with tactical gear appear at Arizona polls

Armed individuals dressed in tactical gear are guarding the polls in Arizona, raising concerns about intimidation during early voting in the midterm elections.

The Maricopa County Elections Department said two people with guns were seen at a mail-in ballot box in Mesa on Friday. The two wore masks to hide their faces and left the area after the county sheriff’s office responded.

And on Saturday night, four people, two of them allegedly armed with guns, confronted each other at the same mailbox when another individual arrived and attempted to record his license plate information.

Two armed individuals dressed in tactical gear guarded a ballot drop box in Mesa, Arizona, on Friday.

Maricopa County Elections Department

“He chased me, pushed me and grabbed me while I was pulling on his license plate cloth to film his license plate,” the woman, who was dressed as a nun, told KTVK News.

“I just felt like fair is fair: They’re videotaping voter license plates, so I didn’t think it was really a big deal to photograph theirs.”

Garrett Archer, a data analyst for Arizona’s KNXV-TV News, shared a photo of the hidden plaque in question, noting wryly that poll watchers don’t want their own plaques photographed.

Right-wing groups have been monitoring polls across the country and taking photos of people and their license plates as they vote in next month’s election, all with the explicit support of Republican politicians.

Lawmakers from the Arizona GOP have repeatedly urged self-styled vigilantism, including asking supporters to install hidden cameras at the polls and follow voters to and from their cars.

Last week, the Arizona secretary of state forwarded a report of voter intimidation to the state attorney general’s office and the US Department of Justice after a voter reported being approached by a group of people and followed him as he tried to deliver a ballot.

“We are deeply concerned about the safety of individuals exercising their constitutional right to vote and lawfully bringing their early voting ballot to a drop box,” the Maricopa County Elections Department said in a statement.

“Uninformed vigilantes outside Maricopa County mailboxes are not increasing the integrity of the election,” the department added. “Instead, they are leading to claims of voter intimidation.”

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