A group that has been observing drop boxes in Arizona was sued on Oct. 24 for allegedly intimidating voters.
Clean Elections USA and its founder, Melody Jennings, were named as defendants in the suit, which was filed by lawyers with Marc Elias’s law firm on behalf of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino.
The drop box observers are violating federal law, including the Voting Rights Act, the lawsuit asserts.
“No person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for voting or attempting to vote, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for urging or aiding any person to vote or attempt to vote,” the law states in part.
Clean Elections USA members and supporters have gathered outside boxes in Maricopa County in recent weeks to watch as people drop off ballots.
Jennings said on social media that people should go to the boxes to act as a “deterrent” against voter fraud.
“We must legally deter people from committing voter fraud. The only way we can do this is to monitor those drop box locations with a team of volunteers. That is why we’re reaching out to patriots like yourself who have similar concerns. In short, we need your help!” the Clean Elections USA website states.
At least some of the observers have been armed.
Some of the observers told a local reporter that they were with Clean Elections USA.
“The tactics being used by Clean Elections USA aren’t just profoundly dangerous to voters in Arizona, they’re an affront to the fundamental principles of our democracy,” Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, said in a statement.
The groups are seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting Clean Elections USA from gathering “within sight of drop boxes” and from following or recording voters or prospective voters at or around drop boxes.
Clean Elections USA would also be barred from “training, organizing, or directing” people to monitor drop boxes if the order is imposed.
The case was filed in federal court in Arizona.
Clean Elections USA and Jennings did not have lawyers listed on the court docket.
Clean Elections USA does not list contact information on its website.
Jennings said on Truth Social, former President Donald Trump’s social media platform, that observers should follow the law.
“Knowing that we the citizens of the United States are protecting the rule of law is very satisfying,” she said.
Several voter intimidation complaints have been lodged in Arizona and referred to the U.S. Department of Justice. Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday that the agency “will not permit voters to be intimidated.”
Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said that the department has received two suspicious activity criminal reports but that no charges have been filed and the observers have not committed crimes.
“It doesn’t meet the threshold for a crime. This is a free nation. The Second Amendment is as important as the first. So that in and of itself does not constitute a crime,” he told reporters when asked about people being dressed in tactical gear and carrying guns.
Arizona law bars being armed or trying to persuade voters within 75 feet of a voting location.
The federal government, though, may decide that the people violated federal law, Penzone added. His agency is “working closely” with the Department of Justice.