For many Americans over the course of their lifetime, the only way to cast a ballot would be to stand in line at a local government building, flash your identification, and enter a semi-private booth to pull a lever, punch a ticket, or tap a digital screen.
But, as COVID-19 added significant challenges to the way in which our world operates, we saw a dramatic increase in the use of alternative voting methods from coast to coast, including a few processes that lawmakers believed would be rife with security issues.
In Arizona, this prediction has unfortunately come to fruition.
“There’s a group of people hanging out near the ballot dropbox filming and photographing my wife and I as we approached the dropbox and accusing us of being a mule,” said the report, which was written by a voter in the Phoenix suburbs and obtained by The Washington Post. “They took … photographs of our license plate and of us and then followed us out the parking lot in one of their cars continuing to film.”
For months in this vast desert swing state, elections officials and democracy advocates have worried that bands of activist observers hunting for fraud will harass and intimidate voters. Citizen watchdogs, organized and freelance, have advertised stakeout events to monitor the goings-ons in parking lots and other drop box locations as voters deposit their early ballots ahead of Election Day.
Monday’s report, which emanated from a drop box in Mesa, just off a major roadway, was the first solid evidence that those fears might come true.
And that wasn’t the only incident.
State elections officials alerted county workers of another complaint by someone who came across an image on Reddit of “a vehicle at a polling location that they are trying to monitor for supposed fraud.”
One man monitoring a drop box in downtown Phoenix, told a local ABC television affiliate Wednesday evening that he was with Clean Elections USA Group. Citing “2000 Mules,” the group asks followers “to safeguard our elections with a legal presence at every ballot box in each and every state that has them.”
Traditional, in-person voting has long provided a far more secure experience for both the voters and for the elections themselves, and this latest kerfuffle in The Copper State has simply reiterated that reality.