Judge Curbs Actions of Election-Monitoring Group in Arizona

A federal judge in Arizona has sharply curtailed the activities of an election-monitoring group in the vicinity of ballot boxes, including taking photos or videos of voters, openly carrying firearms, posting information about voters online, or spreading falsehoods about election laws. The group, Clean Elections USA, has the stated goal of preventing voter fraud by staking out ballot boxes to ensure that people don’t behave as “mules” by illegally casting multiple ballots. In recent weeks, self-described “mule watchers” — some armed — have gathered around outdoor ballot boxes in Maricopa County to take pictures of voters and, in some cases, post those images online.

Last week, the League of Women Voters sued the group, saying that its actions amounted to “time-tested methods of voter intimidation,” and seeking an injunction to halt its activities. Early on Tuesday before a hearing on the matter, Clean Elections USA said it had agreed to cease some activities, including refraining from openly carrying guns or wearing visible body armor within 250 feet of ballot boxes, as well as following or interacting with voters within 75 feet of the boxes.
But the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Michael T. Liburdi, who was appointed by former President Donald J. Trump, goes well beyond that agreement, prohibiting the group “and other persons in active concert or participation with” it from taking photos or videos of voters or disseminating information about voters online, and also from “making false statements” about Arizona’s statutes regarding early voting in interviews or on social media.

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