A group of poll watchers at locations across Arizona has been denounced by leftist groups for ostensibly intimidating voters, but a judge recently ruled that Clean Elections USA may continue allowing monitors to show up at ballot boxes.
Armed ‘poll watchers’ are reportedly standing guard over ballot boxes in the US state of Arizona, ahead of the 2022 midterms, with voters complaining of intimidation ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/IrFZxockOr
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) October 30, 2022
According to District Judge Michael Liburdi, petitioners with the group Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans did not provide a compelling case to prevent the monitors from exercising their First Amendment rights.
Although he acknowledged that there were some “serious questions” regarding the way voters might interpret the presence of the monitors, who are frequently armed. Nevertheless, his ruling determined that those concerns did not rise to the level of banning citizens from showing up to observe ballot drop-offs.
“An individual’s right to vote is fundamental,” the judge wrote. “But so too is an individual’s right to engage in political speech, assemble peacefully, and associate with others.”
As for the argument put forward by Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, Liburdi determined that it did not include “evidence that Defendants’ conduct constitutes a true threat.”
Instead, the decision concluded that the monitors “have not made any statements threatening to commit acts of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.”
Efforts to observe behavior at ballot boxes in Arizona and elsewhere across the nation have increased in recent months, in large part due to allegations earlier this year from right-wing group True the Vote that millions of votes might have been illegally or improperly cast in the 2020 election.
In the wake of those claims, Republican Arizona state Sen. Kelly Townsend called on “vigilantes” across the state to “camp out at these drop boxes” to identify any potential fraudulent acts.
“We put the word out today that if you’re going to come and be like a mule and stuff ballot boxes this time, you’re going to get caught.”
In response to the dispute between monitors and leftist critics, sheriff’s deputies in Maricopa County have been dispatched to two ballot boxes to provide additional security.
After his office received a number of complaints, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich denounced voter intimidation as “absolutely unacceptable,” vowing that it “will not be tolerated.”
He added: “Regardless of intent, this type of misguided behavior is contrary to both the laws and values of our state.”