RNC Chair: Arizona Election Center Key Fob Theft ‘Raises Serious’ Election Security Concerns

An election official sorts mail ballots at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Cen
AP Photo/Serkan Gurbuz

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Whatley said a temporary election worker’s alleged theft of a “digital magnetic key” from the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center on Thursday “raises serious questions about election security in Arizona” that demand answers.

KTAR News noted that Walter Ringfield, 27, was arrested on “theft and criminal damage” charges after allegedly stealing the items. He was out of prison on probation for a previous felony charge when he allegedly committed the crime.

As CNN reported:

According to court documents, Ringfield was captured on surveillance video walking past a desk and multiple tabulators just after 5 p.m. local time on June 20.

The surveillance video then shows Ringfield stopping at the desk, grabbing a lanyard with the security fob and keys attached, and placing them in his pocket, court documents say.

Ringfield was confronted by his elections supervisor about taking the security fob and keys, and he allowed security to search his car. Arizona detectives ultimately executed a search warrant of Ringfield’s home, where the fob was located.

Maricopa County Sheriff Russ Skinner said at a press conference on Tuesday that the “stolen digital magnetic key is something that has the potential to actually log into the tabulation machines” at the election center.

WATCH — FLASHBACK — Election Day Morning: Voting Machines Not Working at Several Locations in Maricopa County, AZ in 2022:

“So you can understand the concern and implication that might have,” he added.

However, Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates said tabulators could not be turned on with merely the key, the Arizona Mirror reported.

Police: Temporary Election Worker for Maricopa County Arrested for Theft of Keys from Election Center

Temporary election worker for Maricopa County, Walter Ringfield (pictured), arrested June 21, 2024, for theft of key fob from election center (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

In a statement released Tuesday, Whatley shared that the RNC and Arizona Republican Party (AZGOP) “dispatched attorneys and observers on the ground as part of our election integrity program to gather information and promote transparency as the situation developed.”

“The RNC and AZGOP have a long history of engaging in Maricopa County election issues both in the field and in the courtroom, and yesterday’s events are an example of our election integrity program’s capacity to provide real-time legal response when issues arise at tabulation centers,” he added.

The Associated Press

Michael Whatley speaks on June 9, 2023, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

Whatley said the “incident raises serious questions about election security in Arizona that must be answered,” adding the RNC “will be constructively engaged with Maricopa County officials to ensure that the remedies to this security breach sufficiently address our concerns.”

The Maricopa County Elections Department told ABC15 in a statement Monday that its election workers “are reprogramming and reconducting logic and accuracy testing of all equipment” for election integrity purposes.

Skinner noted the cost of damages from the theft is estimated to be more than $20,000 because of the reprogramming endeavor ahead of the July 30 primary.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.