Arizona Judge Restricts Ballot Watchers Activity Amid Fear of Voter Intimidation

A federal judge in Arizona granted an emergency order prohibiting a conservative election watchdog group from intimidating voters while casting their ballots in drop boxes.

The order, issued on Monday by U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi, is a response to local media reports that revealed that armed vigilantes affiliated with Clean Elections USA were monitoring ballot boxes.

On Friday, the judge, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, had ruled that the ban would be unconstitutional but has now revised his decision.

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The judge determined that ballot watchers should stay at least 75 feet away from a drop box and can not openly carry guns within 250 feet of a drop box. They are also prohibit to speak or yell at voters — unless they are approached first — and take pictures of them.

The order also demands that Clean Election USA post in their site a statement clarifying that it is not always illegal to deposit ballot on behalf of a family or household member. The message had not been published by the group until Wednesday morning.

The restraining order is effective immediately and will be valid for 14 days, the judge determined.

Arizona is one of the key battlegrounds in this election cycle and prominent Republican names in the state are known for spreading false allegations of election fraud. GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake has repeatedly refused to say if she would accept the results in case she loses.

On Monday, before the order was issued, the Justice Department expressed concerns over the risk of voter intimidation.

“While the First Amendment protects expressive conduct and peaceable assembly generally, it affords no protection for threats of harm directed at voters,” U.S. government attorneys said in a statement.

Marcello Correa

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