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Arizona election official raises security amid death threats: report

FILE – Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Bill Gates testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing to examine a Republican-led Arizona audit of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, in Washington, Oct. 7, 2021. Local election officials preparing for the rapidly approaching midterm elections have one more headache: trying to combat misinformation that can confuse, anger and even disenfranchise voters. Gates said he has been more vocal on social media and more available to traditional media than ever before this year, in an effort to tamp down false election claims before they get out of hand. (Joshua Roberts/Pool via AP, File)

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates on Monday said election-related threats and a sheriff-spurred move to an undisclosed location aren’t impeding his ongoing work with the state’s election system.

“I’m not in hiding … but I’ll put it this way. When the sheriff suggests that I spend the night somewhere else, I do it,” Gates told KTAR 92.3 FM’s “Arizona’s Morning News.”

“The disruption to our family has been minimal, and frankly, it has not interfered with my work at all in this election. Now, threats of violence should never be normalized, of course, and I’m in particular more concerned about our elections workers who have been dealing with this on a daily basis,” Gates said. 

Gates, who reportedly now has a security detail, said the issue of his own safety “has really been blown out of proportion” and underscored that the situation was not impacting his work on the election, but pointed attention toward election workers, who have been hard at work under post-midterms scrutiny as Arizona tabulates their votes. 

“I’ve been an elected official since 2009 and here’s the reality: You’re not gonna make everyone happy,” Gates said. 

Just weeks ahead of the midterms, two uniformed “vigilantes” dressed in tactical gear were seen outside a Maricopa County dropbox, prompting the Maricopa sheriff to increase security around voting locations.

The Arizona secretary of state also referred a case of possible voter intimidation to the Justice Department and the state’s attorney general after a voter was “approached and followed” while attempting to cast their ballot in Maricopa County.  

On Election Day, around 70 of the 223 voting centers in Maricopa, the largest county in Arizona, faced what Gates called an “intermittent issue” preventing some ballots from being read by the tabulator machine. 

The matter drew criticism, but officials have insisted that the technical issue did not impact the overall counting of votes, since voters were able to cast their ballots in another secure drop location to be tabulated later. 

“So these votes were counted either way, whether they were run through the tabulator at the vote center or they’re run through the tabulator at our central count facility,” Gates said on Monday.

Maricopa County elections officials promptly acknowledged the Election Day technical issues affected some 17,000 in-person ballots, but emphasized that “all ballots affected will be counted securely and accurately” despite the error. 

Tags Arizona bill gates election officials Maricopa County Maricopa County Board of Supervisors midterms 2022 security concerns

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