On Friday, a federal judge denied a request by a retirees’ association to issue an injunction and restraining order against a group for monitoring Arizona ballot drop box stations.
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The group, Clean Elections USA, and its founder Melody Jennings had been accused of voter intimidation and threatening the exercise of free and fair elections by the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans (AARA) and Voto Latino.
U.S. District Judge Michael T. Liburdi dismissed Voto Latino from the case, saying the group had not provided evidence of being harmed by Clean Election USA’s alleged conduct.
Liburdi, an appointee of former President Donald Trump and former counsel for Republican Governor Doug Ducey, also denied the AARA’s request for an injunction and restraining order, stating that the retirees’ association had “not provided the Court with any evidence that Defendants’ conduct constitutes a true threat.”
Members of Clean Elections USA allegedly monitored and filmed people as they used drop boxes to cast their votes or help others cast their votes.
In their lawsuit, AARA and Voto Latino claimed that this behavior amounted to voter intimidation in violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and the Voting Rights Act, but they were unable to convince the judge.
“On this record, Defendants have not made any statements threatening to commit acts of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals,” reasoned Liburdi. “There is no evidence that Defendants have publicly posted any voter’s names, home addresses, occupations, or other personal information.”
The judge seemed swayed by the defendants’ attorney Veronica Lucero, who argued that a restraining order would infringe on the group’s First Amendment right to assemble.
“They have pointed to some complaints of voter intimidation, but there’s no connection between that and the defendants’ actions,” Lucero argued. “[Jennings] has not advocated for any kind of voter intimidation.”
Jennings and the other group members coordinated efforts to monitor the Arizona drop boxes through social media, but they always instructed everyone involved to obey the law.
In his ruling, the judge left the lawsuit upon in case the plaintiffs collect “new evidence that Defendants have engaged in unlawful voter intimidation.”
Following the court’s decision, the plaintiffs’ attorneys promptly filed notices that they intend to appeal the ruling.