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Federal judge rejects lawsuits seeking to block groups from monitoring ballot drop boxes

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A federal judge has rejected a temporary restraining order after three nonprofit organizations had requested that a group be banned from monitoring ballot drop boxes. The lawsuit cited concerns of voter intimidation.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi said in his ruling that the “mere act of poll watching is not a fundamental right that carries its own distinct First Amendment protection.” He added, “[t]rue threats are “statements where the speaker means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence.”

Part of the lawsuit also sought financial damages, saying that they would require the funds for resources on how to cope with voter intimidation.

The judge rejected claims that poll watching can be seen as a “traditionally recognized” form of voter intimidation.

Under Arizona law, electioneers and monitors must remain 75-feet (23-meters) from a voting location.

“Plaintiffs have not provided the Court with any evidence that Defendants’ conduct constitutes a true threat,” the judge wrote. “On this record, Defendants have not made any statements threatening to commit acts of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.”

The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans said they were disappointed by the ruling.

“We continue to believe that Clean Elections USA’s intimidation and harassment is unlawful,” the group said, adding it would “seek immediate appellate review and emergency relief.”

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