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Judge is expected to decide this week whether to detain Arizona drop box watchers

A federal judge in Arizona said he expects to decide by Friday whether to order group members Turn off monitoring of external ballot drop boxes In an effort in the Phoenix area that has sparked allegations of voter intimidation.

The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino groups told U.S. District Judge Michael Liberdi during Wednesday’s hearing to ask members of Clean Election USA to gather and vote at the sight of drop boxes in the state’s most populous Maricopa County. Stop following and taking pictures. And videos of him and his cars.

The attorney for Clean Election USA said such a sweeping sanctions order would be unconstitutional.

Liberdi said he expected a decision to be issued by Friday, but could continue to weigh the matter over the weekend.

The League of Women Voters filed a similar lawsuit in federal court in Arizona on Tuesday, alleging that Clean Election USA was scaring voters.

That suit also alleges that the group Lions of Liberty and the Yavapai County Preparatory Team, which are affiliated with far-right anti-government groups swearinghas made its own effort to view ballot boxes and film voters in Arizona’s Yavapai County.

Election deniers across the United States have adopted a film called “2000 Mule” which claims to trick people into traveling between drop boxes and giving them fraudulent ballots during the 2020 presidential election. Paid to fill.

There is no evidence for the notion that a network of ballot “mules” affiliated with Democrats conspired to collect ballots and deliver them to drop boxes two years ago or in the upcoming midterm elections.

Amid complaints from voters who say they have been harassed, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzon said this week his office began to protect around the drop box. Sheriff’s deputies responded when two masked men wearing guns and bulletproof vests appeared at a drop box in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is running for governor of Arizona, said this week that her office has received six counts of possible voter intimidation to the state attorney general and the US Justice Department, as well as to state elections. A threatening email has been sent. the director.

Hobbs’ campaign manager said Wednesday that earlier in the week someone had broken into Hobbs’ campaign headquarters, which is located in Phoenix. Police confirmed that they answered a call to the location and said, “There was information that goods were taken from the property at some point during the night. No suspects have been identified.”

It was unclear whether the incident was related to ongoing issues with ballot drop boxes in Maricopa County.

The US Attorney’s office in Arizona said it is also tracking voter intimidation and vowed to prosecute those who violate federal law.

Federal officials said local police officers “will be on the front lines in efforts to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise their right to vote free of bullying or other election abuses.”

“We will vigorously defend the rights of all Arizonans to vote freely and legally during the election,” the office said on Wednesday. “As pending cases relating to multiple election threats of federal felony convictions from alleged criminal activity arising from our state show, actions that cross the border will go unresolved.”

Arizona Attorney General Mark Branovich is calling on voters to immediately report any threats to the police and file a complaint with his office.

“Regardless of intent, this type of misguided behavior is contrary to both our state’s laws and values,” said Branovich, a Republican.

Republican Kari Lake, which is running for governor, has been pushing threats to voter integrity throughout her campaign. “See all the drop boxes. Period. Save the Republic,” Arizona Republican Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem tweeted last week.

Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richter, who is in charge of voter registration and early vote counts, said he has seen “threats, you name it. Threats to harass you online, but also threats to physically harm you.” “

Richter, a Republican, told CBS News he was shocked by his own party’s election denial.

“It’s especially frustrating when people intentionally do this to satisfy their desire for political office or profit,” he said.

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