Federal Judge Issues Ruling In Favor Of Ballot Drop Box Monitoring

A federal judge Friday declined a request for a restraining order against a group called Clean Elections USA. The lawsuit was filed by left-wing groups Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino, and alleged that Clean Elections USA and its founder are gathering people in an organized campaign to suppress votes through harassment and intimidation around early ballot return drop boxes.

Voto Latino has since been dropped from the case, per Associated Press.

While those affiliated with Clean Elections USA and others are still able to monitor these drop boxes, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi clarified that the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans could once again attempt to argue against Clean Elections USA.

The plaintiffs argued that Clean Elections USA and others were sending armed citizens as part of their intimidation tactics. Armed individuals dressed in military-style gear can be observed in the video below:

An attorney for Clean Elections USA argued that this broad request for a restraining order would be unconstitutional, and Liburdi appeared to agree. The judge argued that the case “certainly presents serious questions,” but ultimately did not rule in favor of the left-wing group’s request to end the drop-off box monitoring as it would be a violation of the First Amendment.

“An individual’s right to vote is fundamental. But so too is an individual’s right to engage in political speech, assemble peacefully, and associate with others,” wrote Liburdi.

“Plaintiffs have not provided the Court with any evidence that Defendants’ conduct constitutes a true threat,” read Liburdi’s decision. “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 Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department has since put up officers around the county’s two ballot boxes in order to ensure security. State Attorney General Mark Brnovich has also stressed that citizens must report any cases of voter intimidation they may observe at drop-off boxes.

The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans expressed disappointment in the decision while doubling down on their stance.

“We continue to believe that Clean Elections USA’s intimidation and harassment is unlawful,” said the group, shortly before it filed an appeal.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona has promised to prosecute all violations of federal law and has said that local police are at the “front line in efforts to ensure that all qualified voters are able to exercise their right to vote free of intimidation or other election abuses.”

“We will vigorously safeguard all Arizonans’ rights to freely and lawfully cast their ballot during the election,” the office announced Wednesday. “As the several election threat-related cases pending federal felony charges from alleged criminal activity arising out of our State show, acts which cross the line will not go unaddressed.”