Arizona election lawsuit: Justice Department says ‘vigilant vote security efforts’ in Arizona are illegal | Techno Glob



Washington
CNN

The Justice Department on Monday entered a closely-watched election case in Arizona where several civil rights groups have accused right-wing activists of intimidating voters at ballot drop boxes.

The allegations “raise serious concerns about voter intimidation,” the Justice Department wrote, adding that “vigilant ballot security efforts” and “private campaigns to video record voters” likely violate federal voting rights laws.

“Citizen-led election observation activities are likely to place voters in reasonable fear of harassment, intimidation, coercion, or interference with their voting rights,” the DOJ added.

The department did not take a formal position on what judges should do.

The lawsuit pits the League of Women Voters against several right-wing groups that have promoted false claims about voter fraud and the 2020 election. The group is accused of sending vigilante poll observers, some with guns and wearing tactical gear, to videotape and intimidate voters in drop boxes.

In a related case brought by separate groups, a federal judge refused to issue a court order prohibiting right-wing activists from congregating near drop boxes or taking photos of voters near drop boxes. District Judge Michael Liberdi, who oversaw both cases, said there were legitimate concerns about the behavior but not enough evidence at this point to restrict anyone’s First Amendment rights.

The League of Women Voters is still specifically pushing for a court order to prevent, among other things, armed vigilantes from assembling near drop boxes. It will be heard on Tuesday.

Representatives of the right-wing groups involved in the case – the Yavapai County Preparedness Team, Clean Elections USA and the Lions of Liberty – did not comment for CNN’s previous coverage of the case. An attorney for Clean Elections pushed back against the allegations brought in the earlier case at a hearing last week, and said on its website that its goal is to ensure that “every legitimate vote must be counted” and that no “illegal votes are added.” mixture.”

The Justice Department filed with some of the arguments raised by the League of Women Voters, specifically claiming that there are no constitutional protections for election vigilantes.

“Just as a citizen’s refusal to pay taxes does not constitute protected speech because she is trying to express disapproval of the IRS, taking a photograph of a voter’s license plate when a photographer is trying to express disapproval of drop-box voting does not constitute protected speech,” the Justice Department said. said

In its filing Monday, the Justice Department bolstered the civil groups’ arguments that the First Amendment’s right to assembly does not allow people to assemble for the purpose of influencing voters.

Last week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department “will not allow voter intimidation” during the midterm elections.



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