‘Fearful’ Maricopa County election officials will have sheriff’s resources, Penzone says

Jul 14, 2022, 12:08 PM | Updated: 12:10 pm

(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)...

(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said his office is pouring substantial resources into election security in an effort to handle concerns from officials.

Penzone, a Democrat, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday that he’s had conversations with Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and Recorder Stephen Richer — both Republicans — where they shared worries that employees could be put in harm’s way at polling places or the recorder’s office.

“They expressed to me fears and concerns … they have employees who come to work every day tabulating votes trying to make sure that the ballots get out properly,” Penzone said. “All the little fundamental aspects of just running an election and they are now fearful.”

Part of the worry is how elections officials in the state have been treated leading up to the primary, according to Penzone.

Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman is leaving her post after spending the last 21 months receiving hate messages through social media and email.

Threats got so intense the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office has been patrolling her house for over a year, Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad on Monday.

Penzone called the harassment “absurd” and said MCSO is watching for trends and will beef up their presence at polling locations for the Aug. 2 primary in preparation.

“Rest assured we’re going to have deputies out and about checking the polling places that will be in plain clothes because what I don’t want is intimidation,” Penzone said.

Poll employees have also been trained to deal with conflict before law enforcement steps in, Penzone said.

An MCSO call center is available for people to report issues.

“We’re going to get a lot of resources to ensure that people are safe,” Penzone said.

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‘Fearful’ Maricopa County election officials will have sheriff’s resources, Penzone says