How an Arizona elections official became the target of a virtual manhunt

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A new report shows Arizona has lost almost all of its experienced election officials, and 98% of the state will have new officials running elections next year. A big reason for the exodus is the increase in harassment of election workers and officials. One story in particular encapsulates that issue.

It’s the story of an elections official who became the target of a virtual manhunt by election-denying activists. Jen Fifield from Votebeat joined Arizona Horizon to explain how and why this is happening.

Celia Nabor is the former assistant director of early voting in Maricopa County. Nabor’s job was to oversee the process of verifying that mail-in ballots were cast by the correct registered voter, including the review of voters’ signatures on the ballot envelopes.

On Jan. 30, election-denying activists began spreading false information about Nabor, partly based on documents acquired through records requests searching for fraud in Maricopa County’s elections, where Nabor helped oversee early voting.

They claimed Nabor was dodging a request to answer questions, prompting others to claim she had helped the county steal the election for Democrats. The claims could not be substantiated, according to an article Fifield wrote for Votebeat.

“What my story really looked at is how this official who is under those people, this is a county worker, was still seeing that harassment even though she wasn’t elected and she wasn’t in that high profile spot,” Fifield said.

Records requests are a powerful tool for greater government transparency, but Votebeat found they are also being used to justify harassment of elections workers and officials, push more restrictive voting laws, challenge the outcome of elections in court, and, in the most extreme cases, fuel threats that upend people’s lives.

“You know how online harassment has been where one person says one thing and it escalates and escalates. it got to the point where people posted her address, and that night someone showed up and was pounding at her door,” Fifield said.

Jen Fifield, Votebeat

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