PHOENIX (AP) — A federal judge on Friday refused to ban a group monitoring an outdoor ballot box in Arizona’s largest county, where wardens showed up armed and in bulletproof vests, saying wardens were not allowed to do so. He said it could violate the constitutional rights of
U.S. District Judge Michael Libbledi said the case remains unresolved and the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans can try again to argue against the group calling itself Clean Elections USA. A second plantif, Voto Latino, has been removed from the case.
Liburdi concluded, “While this case certainly presents serious problems, the court cannot issue an injunction without violating the First Amendment.”
Local and federal law enforcement officials said people, including masked and armed men, were at ballot boxes 24 hours a day in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous county, and in rural Yavapai County as the midterm elections approached. I am wary of reports of watching Some voters have complained that people watching the box took pictures and videos, followed voters, and then threatened voters.
Arizona law requires electors and monitors to be 23 meters (75 feet) from the polling place.
“Plaintiff has not provided evidence to the court that defendant’s conduct constitutes a genuine threat,” the judge wrote. I have not made any statements threatening to commit violent acts.”
The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans said it was a disappointment.
“We continue to believe that Clean Elections USA’s intimidation and harassment are illegal,” it said, adding that it “seeks immediate appeal review and emergency relief.”
Liburdi issued its ruling two days after the first public hearings in two similar cases. Attorneys for Clean Elections USA argued that such a broad injunction was unconstitutional.
A second lawsuit regarding voter intimidation at a mailbox in Yavapai County, Arizona was consolidated with the first lawsuit.
Sheriff’s deputies patrol around two outdoor drop boxes in Maricopa County after two men with guns and wearing bulletproof vests showed up at a drop box in the Mesa suburb of Phoenix. Another of her 24-hour outdoor drop-boxes in the county is located at the Maricopa County Counting and Election Center in downtown Phoenix, now surrounded by a chain link fence.
Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brunovich called on voters to immediately report any threats to the police and file a complaint with his office. The Arizona secretary of state said this week that he had six cases of possible voter intimidation against the state’s attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as threatening emails sent to state election officials.
Arizona’s federal attorney’s office promised to prosecute violations of federal law, but local police said they would “allow all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote without intimidation or other electoral fraud.” We are at the forefront of efforts to do so,” he said.
“We strongly protect the right of all Arizonans to vote freely and lawfully during elections,” the office said Wednesday. As several election threat-related cases, pending federal felony charges, show, crossing the line does not go unaddressed.”
Meanwhile, the Arizona agency Citizens Clean Elections Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to ask its attorneys to seek a court order if necessary to stop oversight groups from using the name “clean elections.” The commission, set up in 1998 to provide voters with nonpartisan election information, said it was inundated with angry calls from people who confused it with the watchdog group.
A second lawsuit, incorporated into the first lawsuit, concerns ballot boxes in Yavapai County, Arizona, where the League of Women Voters, along with related Lions of Liberty and the Yavapai County Preparation Team, accused voters of being intimidated by Clean Elections USA. I claim. Cooperating with the far-right anti-government group “Oath Keepers”.
Lions of Liberty board member Luke Cyrano said the organization canceled its “Operation Drop Box” initiative on Wednesday.
Cyrano said the “official cease and desist order” against all members was in response to pending lawsuits.
“Our goal is not to scare people into not voting,” he said. “We love this country so much.”
Cyrano said the Liberty Lions have nothing to do with Clean Elections USA. His group is connected to the Yavapai County Readiness Team, but the team is not involved in ballot box monitoring, he said.
Similar groups across the United States have embraced a discredited film called “2000 Mules.” The film alleges that people were paid to move between drop-boxes and stuff fraudulent ballots in the 2020 presidential election.
There is no evidence to support the idea that a network of Democratic-affiliated voting “mules” conspired to collect and deliver ballots to drop-boxes in either the 2020 presidential election or the upcoming midterm elections.
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