A Trump-appointed federal judge this week has delivered a blow to election integrity in Arizona.
There, a group called Clean Elections USA was using cellphone cameras to monitor ballot drop boxes in order to prevent the kind of election theft that occurred there and in several other battleground states in 2020, costing Donald Trump his reelection.
But U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi ordered members of the group, some of whom were armed, to stay at least 250 feet away from the ballot boxes after several voters complained about being ‘intimidated.’
In addition, Liburdi barred group members from taking videos or following anyone within 75 feet of a ballot drop box, literally guaranteeing that cheating is going to occur in Arizona.
“It is paramount that we balance the rights of the defendant to engage in their constitutionally protected First Amendment activity with the interest in the plaintiffs and in voters casting a vote free of harassment and intimidation,” Liburdi said.
A lawsuit requesting a restraining order against Clean Elections USA was filed by a left-wing group called the League of Women Voters of Arizona after the defendants began encouraging people to observe ballot boxes in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous and home to Phoenix.
At the same time, the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona, under orders from Brandon’s politicized Justice Department, no doubt, “has vowed to prosecute any violations of federal law but said local police were 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,’” CBS News reported, citing the attorney’s office.
Late last week, Liburdi refused to block the group from monitoring the drop boxes, as reported by NPR. Then he concluded that “while this case certainly presents serious questions, the Court cannot craft an injunction without violating the First Amendment.”
“Plaintiffs have not provided the Court with any evidence that Defendants’ conduct constitutes a true threat,” the judge wrote. “On this record, Defendants have not made any statements threatening to commit acts of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.”
At the time, the group Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans said it was disappointed by the first ruling.
“We continue to believe that Clean Elections USA’s intimidation and harassment is unlawful,” the organization said before filing an appeal.
NPR reported further:
Sheriff’s deputies are providing security around the two outdoor drop boxes in Maricopa County after a pair of people carrying guns and wearing bulletproof vests showed up at a box in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. The county’s other 24-hour outdoor drop box is at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in downtown Phoenix, which is now surrounded by a chain link fence.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, has called on voters to immediately report any intimidation to police and file a complaint with his office. Arizona’s secretary of state this week said her office has received six cases of potential voter intimidation to the state attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as a threatening email sent to the state elections director.
“We will vigorously safeguard all Arizonans’ rights to freely and lawfully cast their ballot during the election,” his office said this week. “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.”
The order issued by Liburdi barring Clean Elections USA from monitoring the drop boxes will last for two weeks but “shall not be construed as an admission they have engaged in any of these activities,” he wrote.