Armed folks intimidate voters near drop boxes in Arizona (and nobody has been arrested)

People armed with weapons and dressed in tactical gear hung around Arizona ballot drop boxes last week and over the weekend, according to Maricopa County Elections Department in a series of tweets on Saturday. And voters in Maricopa County have complained of voter intimidation, claiming the armed individuals followed them, took pictures and video of them, and allegedly accused at least one person of "being a mule," according to ABC15.

"There's a group of people hanging out by the ballot dropbox filming and photographing my wife and I as we approached the dropbox and accusing us of being a mule," said one of the complaints obtained by ABC15. "They took a photograph of our license plate and of us and then followed us out the parking lot in one of their cars continuing to film."

In response, part of a joint statement by Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and Recorder Stephen Richer referred to the armed individuals as "vigilantes," and warned that "voter intimidation" is illegal:

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.

Although monitoring and transparency in our elections is critical, voter intimidation is unlawful. …

No matter how you choose to vote in Arizona, you should feel safe doing so. We will do everything possible in our roles to protect voters, election workers, and our free and fair elections.

But, according to Vice, police claim these voter intimidation tactics are technically legal.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said that after deputies responded, they "were able to determine that the individuals were not breaking any laws and were more than 75 feet away from the ballot box, as required by law."

On Saturday night, at least one of the men returned to monitor the drop box again.

This time local sheriffs were captured on camera trying to intervene in a standoff between the armed individuals monitoring the drop boxes and those who came to observe the watchers.

It's not just voters who are being harassed – election workers in Maricopa County are also feeling it at work, according to Axios, who quoted Gates from a tweet: "We aren't going to stand by while our election workers who are your friends, family members & neighbors get harassed for doing their jobs. When you observe elections, please do it respectfully."

But so far, no arrests have been reported.