December 2, 2022

ARIZONA JUDGE: Armed militias allowed to monitor ballot boxes

ARIZONA JUDGE: Armed militias allowed to monitor ballot boxes

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Worries over voter intimidation have only increased in the final days leading up to the midterms. Now, a federal judge in Arizona has refused to bar a group from monitoring outdoor ballot boxes in the Red state’s largest county, where watchers have shown up armed and in ballistic vests, saying to do so could “violate the monitors’ constitutional rights” without mentioning the rights and safety of the voters themselves.

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U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi said on Friday that the case “remained open” and that the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans could try again to make its argument against a group calling itself Clean Elections USA. A second plaintiff, Voto Latino, was removed from the case.

Arizona law states that electioneers and monitors must remain 75 feet from a voting location.

Local and federal law enforcement have been overwhelmed by reports of people, including some who were masked and armed, “watching” 24-hour ballot boxes from Maricopa County — the most populous county in Arizona — to rural Yavapai County as midterm elections near. Some voters have complained alleging voter intimidation after people watching the boxes took photos and videos and then followed voters.

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A second lawsuit involving charges of voter intimidation at drop boxes in Arizona’s Yavapai County has since been merged with the first one. Liburdi issued his ruling two days after a hearing on the first of two similar cases, where the attorney for Clean Elections USA had argued that such a broad restraining order would be unconstitutional.

Liburdi concluded that “while this case certainly presents serious questions, the Court cannot craft an injunction without violating the First Amendment.” The judge is a Trump appointee and a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization.

The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans said it was disappointed. “We continue to believe that Clean Elections USA’s intimidation and harassment is unlawful,” it said, shortly before filing an appeal.

Follow Tara Dublin on Twitter @taradublinrocks.

Tara Dublin

Tara Dublin is a woefully unrepresented writer who thinks more people would read her cool rock & roll love story inspired by Dave Grohl than any ghostwritten GOP crapbook, agents & publishers. Follow Tara on Twitter @taradublinrocks

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