Maricopa County, AZ, election worker charged with stealing security fob, keys

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Maricopa County, AZ, election worker charged with stealing security fob, keys

Law enforcement officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, arrested a temporary election worker for allegedly stealing a security fob and keys from a ballot tabulation center.

According to a probable cause statement obtained by Fox News Digital, Walter Ringfield, 27, of Phoenix, was seen on security footage taking the items shortly after 5 p.m. on Thursday. The video shows him approaching a desk and multiple tabulators, then taking a red wrist lanyard containing the security fob and keys, the document says.

The statement says Ringfield placed the lanyard in his shorts pocket after briefly stretching. When confronted by his employer, Ringfield allegedly denied the theft, but then suggested the lanyard might be in his car “if” he had mistakenly taken it, the document says. A subsequent search of his vehicle revealed a red lanyard and a matching plastic tag, but the fob remained missing.

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Walter Ringfield, 27, has been accused of stealing a security fob and keys from Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center. (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

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Detectives arrested Ringfield outside his home in Phoenix on suspicion of theft and criminal damage. At the time, the probable cause statement says, they observed a red plastic item inside Ringfield’s car matching the description of the missing lanyard.

Ringfield allegedly admitted to taking the fob but claimed he returned it after approximately 20 minutes, citing a desire to “clean up” in hopes of securing a permanent employment position at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center.

MCSO detectives then executed a search warrant at Ringfield’s residence and found the missing fob on a dresser in his master bedroom. 

security footage shows Walter Ringfield taking security key

Security footage shows Walter Ringfield taking the fob, according to a probable cause statement. (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

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At a press conference on Tuesday, Maricopa County Sheriff Russ Skinner said election staffers and law enforcement’s “swift response and ultimate action helped safeguard democracy and rapid response to the security protocols we have with elections proved to be effective.” 

“If it wasn’t for the staff members at the Maricopa County Elections Center, we wouldn’t have been able to get on this in time to potentially find the missing evidence and get a suspect in custody,” he said. 

According to investigators, security fobs are used with special secure tablets. Because one was removed, the staff must now reprogram every fob and tablet. 

Security footage shows Walter Ringfield taking Maricopa County tabulation center security equipment

Walter Ringfield was caught on camera at the Maricopa County’s tabulation center. (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

Maricopa County, which has had repeated tabulation equipment concerns, has become a hotbed of election-fraud claims in recent years, especially during the last presidential election in 2020. County officials said they do not expect the incident to “have any impact whatsoever on the primary,” which is scheduled for July 30.

While the incident occurred only months before the highly anticipated presidential election in November, it serves as a reassurance that election safety measures in the county are working, according to Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes.

Walter Ringfield walking in tabulation room

Ringfield is seen walking in the tabulation room. (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office)

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“Our systems are not only designed to detect anomalies but are also supported by dedicated professionals committed to upholding the democratic process,” Fontes said in a statement.

“While this event is unwelcome, it speaks to the effectiveness of the security protocols built into Arizona’s election systems. The swift actions of the Maricopa County elections staff, including the re-conducting of logic and accuracy tests, builds in extra layers of protection of all affected equipment. This quick response will prevent any potential impact on the upcoming elections. The Secretary of State’s office will collaborate with law enforcement to address and investigate this incident to ensure accountability and swift justice.”

Fox News’ Bonny Chu contributed to this report.

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