July 14, 2024
Maricopa Co. Election Worker Arrested for Stealing Security Keys to Tabulation Machines

Maricopa Co. Election Worker Arrested for Stealing Security Keys to Tabulation Machines

(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) An election worker in Arizona’s Maricopa County was arrested Friday for allegedly stealing a key fob to the state’s primary election tabulator machines, the AZ Mirror reported.

Maricopa County detectives arrested and charged Walter Ringfield Jr., 27, a Phoenix resident and temporary county employee, with one count of theft and another count of criminal damage.

Election workers turned security footage after noticing the fob was missing from the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center. The footage reportedly revealed that Ringfield took the fob out of the facility in his pocket.

When confronted, Ringfield denied the accusations, leading to a police investigation.

He later told detectives that he had removed the key fob from the premises for 20 minutes on the prior day, but returned it. After acquiring a search warrant, however, detectives found the key fob in his house.

Following the discovery, the county was in the process of re-programming and re-testing its equipment ahead of the July 30 primary election, the Center Square reported.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer told Headline USA via email that county supervisors initially flagged and reported the suspicious activity.

“The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors oversees tabulation, and it was they who promptly noticed the theft, apprehended the individual, determined that nothing had been affected, but decided they would reset and retest everything nonetheless,” Richer wrote.

According to an Arizona Republic report, the measure will prove costly.

“The security fobs are used in conjunction with special secure tablets during the election,” Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office detectives wrote in court documents.

“A director at the facility stated that the estimated cost of the reprogramming would be greater than $19,000 dollars, and the secure operation of the facility is greatly impeded until the reprogramming is complete.”

Complicating the situation, Maricopa County, a hotbed of election irregularities for the past two major elections, will send out its mail-in ballots in just one week.

But Richer, who is up for re-election and faces two Republican challengers, said he personally was not concerned by the development, despite the county’s rocky relationship with maintaining the perception of election integrity in recent cycles.

“I have full confidence in the tabulation of results,” he said.

“Accuracy tests are done both before and after the election,” he added. “And the political parties do a hand count audit of the random sampling of the ballots to make sure the tabulators read the ballots correctly.”

According to the police report, Ringfield claimed that he was simply trying to be a good employee so that he might get hired full-time.

“Walter said the job was temporary and he was trying to make it permanent, so he wanted to clean up,” the report says.

Ringfield’s father, Walter Ringfield Sr., told reporters that he “will wait to pass judgment until all of the facts come out.”

“I love my son,” he added.

The county planned to further address the issue in a press conference Friday.

Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.

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