The sheriff in metropolitan Phoenix is stepping up security around ballot drop boxes after a series of incidents involving people keeping watch on the boxes and taking video of voters. The watchers apparently were inspired by lies about the 2020 election. On Friday, deputies responded when two masked people carrying guns and wearing bulletproof vests showed up at a drop box in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, the Associated Press reports. The secretary of state said her office has referred six cases of potential voter intimidation to the state attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as a threatening email sent to the state elections director. People watching the boxes and voters showing up to vote have covered their license plates, according to photos shared on social media.
“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,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone. Penzone said his office has referred two incidents to county prosecutors for potential criminal charges. Fueled by former President Trump’s false claims of fraud in 2020 and the debunked film “2,000 Mules,” drop boxes have become a hotbed for conspiracy theories alleging without evidence that people illegally collected and deposited ballots in them.