Arpaio to deploy deputies on election day to intimidate voters
Disgraced Sheriff Joe Arpaio is in the political fight of his life, and he’s not afraid to deploy voter intimidation.
Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, who has been charged with criminal contempt in a racial discrimination case, is preparing to deploy his deputies at polling stations on election day in a move that voting rights activists warn amounts to intimidation.
Poll workers assigned to the county’s 640 polling places have been instructed by the election recorder, Helen Purcell, to contact Arpaio’s office for all non-life threatening police needs on election day. Principals whose schools have polling places have also been told that Arpaio’s deputies will be “stationed around the valley for easy dispatch should there be any need for an officer”.
But voting rights activists warn that deploying Arpaio’s officers will itself serve as intimidation, given the sheriff’s track record of ethnic profiling, harassment and organized raids directed against undocumented Hispanic people. Arpaio is locked in a tense re-election fight on 8 November, as a growing number of Latino citizens and allied progressives seek to oust him as sheriff after 23 years in the post.
“The presence of Arpaio’s deputies would be intimidation,” said Samantha Pstross, president of the Arizona Commission for Election Accountability, a coalition of non-partisan voting rights groups. “They consistently treat voters differently based on the color of their skin, so why would they do any differently on election day, especially given that their boss is running for re-election?
“This is a recipe for disaster,” she added.