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Group Accused of Voter Intimidation Must Stay Clear of Ballot Boxes, Judge Rules
A federal judge in Arizona has prohibited members of an organization accused of voter intimidation from being within 75 feet of polling places. The decision also forbids voters from entering a 250-foot zone around polling places while openly carrying weapons or wearing body armor.
Judge Michael Liburdi of the U.S. District Court approved a motion for a restraining order on Tuesday in a case that combined a lawsuit made by the League of Women Voters of Arizona with one brought by the nonprofit advocacy groups Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino.
10 alleged instances of voter intimidation in Arizona were reported to the DOJ. Both complaints claimed that Melody Jennings, the organization’s founder, and Clean Elections USA monitored voters as part of a “coordinated vigilante intimidation campaign” at ballot drop boxes, “with the sole intention of discouraging voters… from depositing their ballots.”
In accordance with the judge’s ruling, members of the group are not allowed to speak to or yell at voters who are returning ballots to drop boxes, follow them as they deliver their ballots, share or post information about these voters online, or take pictures or films of them as they do so.
Police in Philadelphia report 9 injuries from a gunshot outside a pub. The group is also prohibited from making misleading claims about Arizona statutes that allow people to return ballots in a drop box on behalf of another person in extraordinary situations as well as from accusing people of voting fraud simply because they placed numerous ballots in a drop box.
I’ve spent years defending Arizona’s democracy and safeguarding our voting rights. As governor, I’m going to keep doing just that.
— Katie Hobbs (@katiehobbs) November 3, 2022
Liburdi instructed Jennings to publish a post on Truth Social explaining the various reasons why voters in Arizona are permitted to legally deliver more than one ballot to a ballot drop box location. This was done in response to Clean Elections USA and its founder’s promotion of a false claim accusing some voters of being so-called “ballot mules.” Jennings posted on Wednesday and provided the pertinent Arizona legislation on returning multiple ballots in accordance with the judge’s directive.
On Monday, October 31, 2022, a voter casts their ballot in a safe ballot drop box at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix. When ABC News reached Jennings on Thursday, he declined to comment. During a Saturday appearance on “War Room With Steve Bannon,” Jennings said of her organization’s actions, “We’re actually safeguarding you,” before the judge’s decision on Tuesday. And I want to stress that we are standing guard over your vote because we care about you. Moreover, we want to keep defending the rule of law.”
Responding to questions from the lawyer for the AZ @ActiveRetirees, @LaliMadduri, Stevens said he planned to count an estimated 30k early ballots despite provisions in the law that limit early ballot hand-count audits to 1% or 5k ballots, whatever is less.https://t.co/CgSrdawBN6
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) November 5, 2022
According to the president of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, Saundra Cole, “this order is a gain for all Arizonans, especially seniors who are most likely to vote via early ballot.” “Voting is a constitutional right as well as a patriotic duty.”
In a statement released on Thursday, Voto Latino President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar said, “This is a crucial election for Arizona and for our nation.” Voters can and should have complete faith that they can cast their ballots in a secure environment on or before Election Day.
On Thursday, Voto Latino informed ABC News that it has secured an agreement with Clean Elections USA to assure that voters in Arizona who use drop boxes are protected. According to Voto Latino, Clean Elections USA decided this week that they would not appeal Judge Liburdi’s decision against them.
In exchange, Voto Latino stated that they had agreed to drop the appeal they had filed in conjunction with Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and not ask for an emergency injunction in their own case before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.