December 2, 2022

KEEP AWAY: Arizona judge FORCES BACK armed poll watchers in new ruling

KEEP AWAY: Arizona judge FORCES BACK armed poll watchers in new ruling

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The leader of a group that organizes observers at ballot boxes must post the truth about ‘ballot harvesting’ on her social media, a judge has ordered, and observers must back off — or the poll watchers must ditch their weapons and body armor.

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After initially ruling in favor of the group, which calls itself Clean Elections USA, a judge has changed course following a second lawsuit. While he affirms it’s still legal for observers to watch from a distance, if they’re wearing body armor or carrying weapons, they’ll have to move back.

The order requires that all watchers stay back at least 75 feet, and they cannot move closer to photograph voters or their vehicles. Those with weapons and body armor must be at least 250 feet from the ballot boxes.

In addition, Melody Jennings, the leader of Clean Elections USA, was ordered to post a statement on her Truth Social page to correct false claims. While she has at least partially complied with that order, her statement doesn’t look quite like what the judge decreed.

Law & Crime reports:

“Signed by U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi, a Trump appointee, the temporary restraining order has been agreed upon by both parties and is carefully worded. It does not require Clean Elections USA or Jennings to admit liability and bans would-be monitors from ‘[i]ntentionally’ violating some the rules that it outlines and only bans carrying firearms ‘[o]penly’ within 250 feet of drop boxes.”

Despite agreeing to the order, Jennings’ post on Truth Social adds one little comment of her own — a claim that she has never misled her followers.

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[Screenshot via Melody Jennings/TruthSocial]
The order requires her to post:

“It is not always illegal to deposit multiple ballots in a ballot drop box. It is legal to deposit the ballot of a family member, household member, or person for whom you are the caregiver Here are the rules for ballot drop boxes by which I ask you to abide:”

She’s also required to follow that up with:

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“Any past statement that it is always illegal to deposit multiple ballots in a ballot drop box is incomplete; a family member, household member, or caregiver can legally do so.”

However, Jennings seems determined to dodge liability here, adding a claim that she’s “never stated otherwise.”

Here’s an excerpt from Clean Elections USA’s website:

“Many state regulations call for the voter to put their vote in the box themselves. The exception to this is a person who is unable to deliver their vote.”

The page goes on to admit that in “several states” one person can deliver ballots for their entire household, but then pivots to claim that there are legal steps required for this that are neglected in the case of a dropbox — implying that someone delivering multiple ballots to a dropbox cannot be doing so in the correct and legal manner.

“There are forms in place to document this arrangement…A vote must have a strict chain of custody. This means that everyone in that chain has to be verified based on the receipt and the handoff. The drop box adheres to none of those standards.”

The group then asks “patriots” to act as poll watchers and document such drops, clearly conflating the act of returning more than one ballot with the act of doing so illegally

Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.

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