Speed Reads

Raising Arizona

Judge bars Arizona group from harassing and photographing voters, carrying guns, near drop boxes

A federal judge in Arizona on Tuesday enjoined the right-wing advocacy group Clean Elections USA from open-carrying firearms or wearing body armor within 250 feet of ballot drop boxes, taking photos or videos of voters, or interacting with them within 75 feet of a drop box. The injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, lasts through next week's midterm elections. 

Liburdi had declined to limit Clean Elections USA's drop box activities last week in response to a request from the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino, saying he hadn't seen evidence of harm to voters. But testimony from hounded voters during a hearing on Tuesday, in a parallel case brought by the League of Women Voters of Arizona, appeared to persuade him that the box watchers had crossed the line into voter intimidation

Liburdi also ruled that some individuals affiliated with Clean Elections USA must post messages on Truth Social correcting their previous false statements that voters can't drop off multiple ballots. He suggested some language, too: "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."

Before Tuesday's hearing in Phoenix, Clean Elections USA had agreed to stop openly carrying guns or following or talking with voters near drop boxes. After the hearing, lawyers for the group said said they would contest Liburdi's ban on photographing and posting information about voters online and his order they stop "making false statements" about Arizona's ballot abuse law, arguing those parts of the injunction violate the poll monitors' First Amendment rights. 

"Arizona is home to some of the most competitive, crucial races in the country, including those for governor and U.S. Senate," Politico reports. "It's also been ground zero for election conspiracies, with the Republican candidates for governor, U.S. Senate, secretary of state, and attorney general all having a history of election denial."