REPORT: Maricopa County Worker Arrested For Theft From Election Center


Last week, authorities arrested Walter Ringfield, a 27-year-old temporary worker, after he allegedly stole a security fob and keys from the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center (MCTEC). Footage of the theft, captured by surveillance cameras on June 20, showed Ringfield pocketing the items from a desk within the MCTEC’s elections building in downtown Phoenix.

Due to the theft, Maricopa County elections officials are now faced with the costly task of reprogramming security equipment. The situation is especially pressing as the department is gearing up for the upcoming July 30 primary election, with early voting set to commence on July 3.

Following his arrest on Friday, Ringfield was booked into jail on charges of theft and criminal damage. Court records reveal that he is not eligible for bond, given his current probation status from a previous felony. Despite denying the allegations when initially questioned, detectives found part of the keys in his vehicle the following day.

Ringfield, who had been fired for suspected theft, claimed he took the items in an effort to “clean up” and secure a permanent position. Unfortunately, the missing security fob, crucial for securing tablets during elections, was not recovered. The theft forced election officials to plan a costly reprogramming of their security equipment, estimated to be around $20,000, as the secure operation of the facility remains compromised until the updates are complete.

The security breach came to light when election workers performing a daily inventory noted the disappearance of the security items the evening prior. Surveillance footage from around 5 p.m. on Thursday confirmed Ringfield removing the items from a desk. Later, he was arrested and booked into jail on charges of theft and criminal damage.

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The Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center told ABC 15 in a statement:

Maricopa County Elections has referred a matter to law enforcement that involves an alleged theft of an item by a temporary election worker from the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center.

On Friday morning, when completing a daily inventory, Maricopa County elections workers identified that an item was taken from the Ballot Tabulation Center on Thursday evening, and staff took immediate action to investigate the matter and contacted the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. The stolen item has been recovered but to ensure the integrity of Maricopa County Elections, election workers are reprogramming and re-conducting logic and accuracy testing of all equipment.

Due to the on-going criminal investigation of this matter, we cannot provide any additional comment or details. For information, please contact Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Office.

The probable cause statement for Ringfield’s arrest details the incident. “On the desk there was a red scrunchy wrist lanyard with a security fob and keys attached,” the document noted. Walter is described as stopping at the desk, taking the lanyard, and then placing it into his shorts’ right pocket as he continues on his way.

“A director at the facility stated that the estimated cost of the reprogramming would be greater than $19,000 dollars, and the secure operation of the facility is greatly impeded until the reprogramming is complete,” the probable cause statement report explained.

In recent years, Maricopa County, located in Arizona, has been a focal point regarding ballot integrity, particularly in recent elections. The county’s handling of ballots and election procedures has been scrutinized, leading to audits and reviews aimed at ensuring transparency and accuracy in the electoral process.

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