Arizona Province’s Top Election Officials Leave Amid Threats

PHOENIX (AP) — The elected county recorder and election director in Arizona’s Yavapai County resign after more than a year and a half of threats and heated 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 that she’s had enough of the “nasty” and has taken a job outside the county. Her last day will be July 22. She said Election Director Lynn Constabile is leaving for the same reason, and that Friday is her last day.

“A lot of it is the misery we’ve been dealing with,” Hoffman said. “I’m a Republican recorder living in a Republican county where the candidate they wanted to win 2-to-1 in this county and still grieving, and so is my staff.”

“I’m not sure what they think we did wrong,” she said. “And they’re very mean. The accusations and the threats are mean.”

Constabile was busy Friday conducting a required pre-election “logic and accuracy test” for the upcoming primary and unavailable for comment.

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

Ken Matta, who served in the Arizona Secretary of State’s office for nearly 20 years, resigned as chief of election security on May 6. long twitter thread that he decided to leave largely because he was fed up with the threats and harassment he and other election officials were subjected to.

Arizona’s 15 county recorders are responsible for voter registration and ensuring that ballots are sent correctly to the more than 80% of voters who vote by mail. They earn only $63,800 a year, a salary set by the legislature that has not increased in the decade Hoffman has been in office.

The district election directors are appointed and preside over the actual elections and oversee the counting of votes. Constabile has been election director for 18 years and is also leaving for another job

Hoffman said the county sheriff’s office decided she needed extra protection from threats after the 2020 election and began regular patrols of her home, something that had never happened before.

Board of Trustees meetings are full of critics holding placards and hissing from behind when Hoffman or Constabile have to make a presentation.

“Every time we have something on the agenda, people come in and protest,” Hoffman said. “They don’t like the vendors we use, they don’t like the programs they want to set up. It’s very sad.”

A longtime resident of Yavapai County, Hoffman said she once turned to those who “hissed” at her from the back of the room.

“And I looked at them and I said, ‘You know what, I’ve been in this province since 1961 — there’s nobody in this province who cares more than I do,'” she said. “And that was answered with ‘Shut up, turn around, look at the sign, you’re condescending.'”

She said she is confident her “wonderful staff” will ensure this year’s elections go well and provincial regulators will appoint qualified replacements.

“They will be very diligent in researching anyone they would like to appoint,” she said.

Early ballots for the August 2 primaries will be sent out next week.

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