Masked and armed vigilantes are staking out Arizona ballot boxes with the GOP’s blessing

Masked and armed vigilantes are staking out Arizona ballot boxes with the GOP’s blessing

Vanity Fair reports:

With exactly two weeks to go until the midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans are out here making their respective cases re: why voters should allow them to either hold on to their majority in Congress or retake power. One way the two parties have diverged on tactics? Well, the GOP appears to be the only one openly encouraging its base to stake out ballot boxes and intimidate would-be voters. With guns.

On Monday, Paul Penzone, the sheriff for Arizona’s Maricopa County, said he had to increase security at ballot drop boxes following a number of incidents involving individuals “keeping watch on the boxes and taking video of voters,” according to the Associated Press. On Friday, Penzone’s deputies responded after two people carrying guns and wearing masks and bulletproof vests appeared at a drop box in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. The following day, per HuffPost, four people, two of whom reportedly also had guns, “got into a confrontation at the same drop box” when another person showed up and attempted to take down their license plate information, which was obstructed. “Every day I’m dedicating a considerable amount of resources just to give people confidence that they can cast a vote safely, and that is absurd,” Penzone said during a news conference. He added that his office had referred two voting-related incidents to prosecutors for possible criminal charges. Last week two Maricopa County officials issued a joint statement saying: “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.”

Critics, of course, will claim that we don’t definitively know that the individuals wearing masks, carrying guns, and intimidating voters are Republicans or aligned with the Republican Party—but the evidence sure points in that direction. For one thing, Democrats have long been known to cast their ballots early (and Republicans have been specifically told to wait until Election Day to vote). For another, only one party has been obsessed with baseless allegations of voter fraud for the last two years, or endorsed ridiculous claims that a vast network of “mules” conspired to throw the 2020 election to Joe Biden by smuggling fraudulent votes into drop boxes. There’s also the fact that the right-wing organization Clean Elections USA told Steve Bannon last week that it is “actually making a difference“ and “seeing mules be intimidated from doing their thievery.” [Continue reading…]

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