A lawsuit Has Been Filed In Arizona To Prevent The Rigorous Monitoring Of Mail Drop Boxes

Late on Tuesday, the League of Women Voters in Arizona filed a lawsuit in federal court against various parties they claim are engaged in a concerted scheme known as “Operation Drop Box” to scare Arizonan voters.

A nonprofit called Protect Democracy filed the complaint in the US District Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of the League. It is the second recent lawsuit submitted in federal court that targets the actions of those who have been photographing and staking out voters at Arizona voting boxes, some of whom are armed.

The Voting Rights Act and another federal law that forbids conspiracies to intimidate voters are allegedly violated by the conduct, according to the lawsuit. In order to prevent the accused from “further scaring voters or otherwise violating the law,” a court injunction is requested.

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The League contends in its lawsuit that actions taken by those watching polling places in Yavapai and Maricopa Counties are a part of a “escalating conspiracy of voter intimidation and harassment in Arizona” that violates voters’ right to cast ballots “free from intimidation, threats, or coercion.”

The voting rights organization claims that Clean Elections USA and the Lions of Liberty LLC have been “actively planning, coordinating, and recruiting for widespread campaigns to surveil and intimidate Arizona voters at ballot drop boxes and baselessly accuse them—either directly or indirectly—of committing voter fraud.” The League claims that these two organizations are related to the Oath Keepers of Yavapai County.

When contacted by CNN on Tuesday, a representative of the Yavapai County Preparedness Team declined to comment on the complaint. CNN contacted a lawyer with Clean Elections USA, but they did not react right away. CNN has also contacted Lions of Liberty via the organization’s website.

The lawsuit claims that the actions of the vigilantes – some of whom have been seen donning masks and protective gear – appear to be motivated by the debunked movie “2000 mules,” which promoted the right-wing conspiracy theory that so-called “ballot mules” illegitimately dumped numerous ballots at drop boxes during the previous election. In order to “peddle a dangerous conspiracy notion,” the lawsuit claims that the movie “has been roundly debunked by experts” and contains “pictures of innocent voters properly casting their ballots.”

The League of Women Voters of Arizona claimed that those manning the ballot drop boxes are also spreading the myth that Arizonans are breaking the law when they cast a ballot for someone else, despite the fact that state law permits family members, caregivers, and election officials to assist voters by casting their ballots.

According to the lawsuit, Yavapai County Preparedness Team and Lions of Liberty are conducting “a comprehensive effort to watch all drop boxes in Yavapai County, video voters, and subsequently report to law enforcement any voters who submit multiple ballots.” The plan calls for “patriots” to work in shifts to watch over all of the drop boxes in the county, photograph any voter who drops multiple ballots, as well as their vehicle and licence plate, and then inform the Yavapai County Sheriff of their findings.

The League alleges that Clean Elections USA and its founder Melody Jennings have organised a statewide campaign known as “Dropbox Initiative 2022” to monitor and harass voters. The campaign’s goal, according to the League, is to “dox” voters by publicly disclosing their personal information online and falsely accusing them of being “mules,” according to the lawsuit.

An association for retirees and a group for Latino voters filed a request for a temporary restraining order against Clean Elections USA and its founder, Melody Jennings, earlier this week on the grounds that they are orchestrating an intimidation campaign against voters in Arizona.

On a hearing on Wednesday, US District Judge Michael Liburdi stated that he planned to render a decision in the case by Friday, but added that he might need the weekend to do so.

The lawsuit cited three complaints that voters had made to Arizona election officials as evidence that Clean Elections USA was violating federal law with incidents at ballot drop box sites.

These and other intimidation-related complaints have been reported to the US Justice Department by the Secretary of State for Arizona.

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The defence lawyer for the defendants, Veronica Lucero, disputed the accusations on Wednesday, telling the judge that there was no concrete proof linking her clients to any actions that had been flagged as intimidating by Arizona election officials.

However, attorneys for the plaintiffs called a number of witnesses who claimed they were intimidated by voters at Arizona’s polling places, some of whom were armed.

The defendants would be prohibited from “gathering within sight of drop boxes; from following, taking photos of, or otherwise recording voters or prospective voters, those assisting voters or prospective voters, or their vehicles at or around a drop box; and from training, organising, or directing others to do those activities,” according to the two groups, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino.

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