Judge Rules Group Can Monitor Arizona Ballot Drop Boxes

Despite the fact that observers have come up armed and wearing ballistic vests, a federal judge on Friday refused to prevent a group from keeping an eye on outdoor voting boxes in Arizona’s largest county, stating that to do otherwise could violate the monitors’ constitutional rights.

Judge Michael Liburdi of the US District Court stated that the matter was still pending and that the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans could re-argue its claim in opposition to an organization called Clean Elections USA.

As the midterm elections approach, allegations of people, some of whom were masked and armed, keeping a close eye on 24-hour polling places in rural Yavapai County and Maricopa County, the state’s most populous county, have frightened local and federal law officials. After observers of the ballot boxes took pictures, videos, and followed voters, some voters have reported that they were the victims of voter intimidation.

Election observers and monitors are required under Arizona law to stand 75 feet (23 meters) away from polling places.

While voting rights organizations argue that the surveillance of the ballot boxes amounted to voter intimidation, the plaintiffs were unable to present any proof the defendants issued any threats.

“Plaintiffs have not provided the Court with any evidence that Defendants’ conduct constitutes a true threat. On this record, Defendants have not made any statements threatening to commit acts of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals,” the judge stated.

Liburdi came to the conclusion that even though this case raises important issues, the Court cannot enact an injunction without going against the First Amendment.

According to the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, they are extremely devastated.

The group stated that they continue to think that the intimidation and harassment by Clean Elections USA is illegal and that they will immediately file an appeal and request emergency relief.

After a hearing on the first of two related instances, Liburdi rendered his decision two days later. Such a sweeping restraining order, according to the lawyer for Clean Elections USA, would be unconstitutional.

Since then, the initial case and another one concerning allegations of voter intimidation at drop boxes in Yavapai County, Arizona, have been combined.

Sheriff’s officers are securing the two outdoor drop boxes in Maricopa County after two gunmen wearing bulletproof vests arrive at a box in the Mesa, Arizona, suburb of Phoenix. At the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in downtown Phoenix, which is currently encircled by a chain link fence, there is another 24-hour outdoor drop box for the county.

Republican Mark Brnovich, the attorney general of Arizona, has urged citizens to immediately report any intimidation to the police and to file a complaint with his office. The state elections director in Arizona got a threatening email this week, and the secretary of state for Arizona reported receiving six examples of possible voter intimidation to the state attorney general and the US Department of Justice.

The US attorney’s office in Arizona has committed to prosecute any federal law violations, but noted that local police were leading the charge to make sure that all eligible voters could exercise their right to vote without fear of intimidation or other election fraud.




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