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Maricopa County to eliminate drive-thru voting, expand polling centers for primary

Maricopa County is eliminating the drive-through drop boxes it opened in 2020 during the pandemic, but expanding the number of locations where voters can drop off an early ballot.

County election workers struggled to find suitable polling locations that allowed for social distancing — some outright refused to host voting sites. That led Maricopa County to seek alternatives, like drive-thru drop boxes, to complement 99 vote centers the county was able to open.

There will be only one outdoor drop box during the upcoming August primary — located outside county election headquarters in Phoenix.

However, there will be over 200 vote centers open to the public by election day where voters can drop off ballots. And 15 drop boxes, including the one at election headquarters, will be placed in government buildings across the county.

Republicans like Sen. Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) have recently called for citizens to guard those drop boxes. Townsend specifically encouraged citizens to use wildlife trail cameras and jot down license plate numbers of those who use the boxes.

Other Republicans, like Sen. Paul Boyer, discouraged such actions.

“I certainly don't think that we should have armed citizens who are looking at ballot boxes and who's putting ballots into them,” Boyer told KJZZ’s The Show.

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Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.