Top Arizona County election officials leave amid threats

By BOB CHRISTIE
Associated press

PHOENIX (AP) — The county recorder-elect and chief electoral officer for Yavapai County in Arizona are stepping down after more than a year and a half of threats and heavy criticism from supporters of former President Donald Trump who accept his lie that he lost the 2020 election because of fraud.

County Recorder Leslie Hoffman said Friday she was fed up with the “nastiness” and had taken a job outside the county. His last day will be July 22. She said longtime chief electoral officer Lynn Constabile was leaving for the same reason and that Friday was her last day.

“A lot of it was the naughtiness that we dealt with,” Hoffman said. “I’m a Republican recorder living in a Republican county where the candidate they wanted to win won by 2 to 1 in that county and continue to grieve, as do my staff.”

“I don’t know what they think we did wrong,” she said. “And they are very mean. Accusations and threats are mean.

The constable was busy on Friday doing a pre-election “logic and accuracy test” required for the upcoming primary and was unavailable for comment.

Hoffman and Constabile’s experiences are not unique, as election professionals across the country have been threatened and harassed since Trump’s loss. A former Georgia election worker testified last week before a congressional committee how her life was turned upside down when Trump and his allies falsely accused her and her mother of drawing fraudulent ballots of a suitcase in Georgia.

Ken Matta, who worked in the Arizona secretary of state’s office for nearly 20 years, stepped down as election security chief on May 6. He stated in long twitter thread that he decided to leave largely because he was fed up with the threats and harassment he and other election workers were subjected to.

Arizona’s 15 county recorders are responsible for voter registration and ensuring that absentee ballots are properly mailed to more than 80% of voters who vote by mail. They earn just $63,800 a year, a salary set by the Legislative Assembly that hasn’t increased in Hoffman’s decade in office.

County Electoral Officers are appointed and conduct the actual elections and oversee the counting of ballots. Constabile has been the chief electoral officer for 18 years and is also leaving for another job

Hoffman said the county sheriff’s office decided she needed additional protection after the 2020 election due to threats and began regular patrols of her home, which had previously been unheard of.

Supervisory board meetings are filled with critics holding signs and whistling in the back when Hoffman or Constabile are about to give a presentation.

“Whenever we have something on the agenda, people come out and protest,” Hoffman said. “They don’t like the providers we use, they don’t like the programs they want to put in place. It’s very sad.”

Hoffman is a longtime resident of Yavapai County and said she once turned to those who were “whistling” at her from the back of the room.

“And I looked at them and I said, ‘You know what, I’ve been in this county since 1961 – there’s no one in this county that cares more than me,'” she said. . “And that was greeted with ‘Shut up, turn around, face the board; you are condescending.

She said she is confident that her “wonderful staff” will ensure this year’s election runs smoothly and that county supervisors appoint qualified replacements.

“They are going to be very diligent in seeking out anyone they would consider nominating,” she said.

The first ballots for the Aug. 2 primary will be mailed out next week.