A federal judge ruled Friday that conspiracy theorists — some of them armed and wearing military-style tactical gear — have a right to continue staking out ballot drop boxes while people vote in Arizona.
Judge Michael Liburdi, appointed by former President Donald Trump, refused to issue a restraining order against members of a right-wing activist group gathering at ballot boxes in Maricopa County — arguing they had a First Amendment right to do so, were not a proven “true threat” and that their actions did not “fall into any traditionally recognized category of voter intimidation.”
“Many voters are legitimately alarmed by the observers filming” at ballot boxes, Liburdi conceded in his 14-page ruling. But he said there has been no proof that the group organizing the drop box guards, Clean Elections USA, has encouraged any acts of violence or posted personal or identifying information about voters using drop boxes.
“While this case certainly presents serious questions,” Liburdi noted, “the court cannot craft an injunction without violating the First Amendment.”
Liburdi agreed to keep the case open and said he would hear any new evidence demonstrating that defendants “have engaged in unlawful voter intimidation.”
Clean Elections USA claims it’s trying to prevent voter fraud by organizing activists across the country who station themselves at drop boxes. Since there has been no evidence of voter fraud, despite Trump’s repeated false claims about the 2020 election he lost, the group’s political bias is obvious, and its stakeout motivation specious.
Voters have filed complaints, and some have confronted the self-appointed ballot guards. (Check out one confrontation here:)