Election worker arested after allegedly stealing digital key access to voting machines

 June 26, 2024

As the November elections near, many are sounding the alarm already regarding possible election integrity issues, given what happened across the country in the last major election. 

According to Gizmodo, Maricopa County, Arizona -- a location that was never shy of such issues -- is already making headlines after an election worker was recently arrested for having stolen a digital key that would have given him access to the county's voting machines.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) held a press conference this week about the incident, during which they stressed that they're ready for any potential issues in the upcoming election.

Maricopa County was a hotbed of election-related issues in the 2020 election.

What's going on?

The incident occured at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC), and it involved a temporary worker on the premises.

Gizmodo noted:

Walter Ringfield Jr., a 27-year-old from Phoenix, was working a temporary job at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC) when someone noticed on June 20 that a red lanyard containing keys and a digital fob for voting equipment had gone missing.

After reviewing surveillance footage Ringfield was identified as the person who picked up the keys around 5 p.m. local time that day.

Notably, the suspect could clearly be seen snatching the keys, according to screenshots of the incident provided to the outlet.

“When confronted by his employer, Ringfield denied the theft, but then suggested the lanyard might be in his car ‘if’ he had mistakenly taken it,” MCSO explained in a press release.

It added, “A subsequent search of his vehicle revealed a red lanyard and a matching plastic tag, but the fob remained missing.”

The outlet noted:

Ringfield was arrested the following day at his home, where the arresting officers “observed a red plastic item consistent with the missing lanyard inside his vehicle.” MCSO alleges Ringfield admitted at that point to taking the fob.

The implications

The situation is beyond serious due to the fact that such a key would technically allow someone to alter vote tallies.

"From my understanding, the stolen digital magnetic key is something that has the potential to actually log into the tabulation machines at MCTEC. So you can understand the concern and the implication that might have,” Sheriff Russ Skinner said.

The keys were reportedly reprogrammed by election officials in the wake of the arrest.

Only time will tell if future similar incidents occur.



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