Judge Limits Drop Box Monitoring Efforts of Vigilante Group in Arizona

UPDATE: The judge’s written temporary restraining order was entered soon after the conclusion of the hearing. In compliance with the order, on Nov. 2 Clean Elections USA founder Melody Jennings posted on Truth Social clarifying that Arizona law allows individuals to return more than one ballot to a drop box in specific situations.

WASHINGTON, D.C. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, a federal judge ruled from the bench (meaning orally without a written order) and issued a temporary restraining order that prevents Clean Elections USA (a right-wing group behind vigilante drop box monitoring in Arizona) and its supporters from engaging in certain drop box monitoring activities in Arizona. On Monday, Oct. 24, the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino filed a lawsuit against Clean Elections USA, its affiliates and unidentified individuals challenging the group’s alleged voter intimidation practices in Arizona. Shortly thereafter, the League of Women Voters of Arizona filed a separate lawsuit challenging Clean Elections USA and other groups’ drop box monitoring practices. The cases were consolidated on Oct. 31. Although the judge denied the first set of plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on Oct. 28, the judge approved the League of Women Voters plaintiffs’ more narrow request today. The temporary restraining order reflects an agreement between the League of Women Voters of Arizona and Clean Elections USA, not between the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Clean Elections USA.

The judge listed the following guidelines when reading his order: The defendants may not train, organize, encourage or direct others to monitor drop boxes; the defendants may not go within 75 feet of drop boxes or the entrance where a drop box is located and, unless a voter talks to them first, the defendants are not allowed to speak to or yell at a voter first. The defendants also may not openly carry firearms or wear body armor within 250 feet of a drop box. Melody Jennings, the founder of Clean Elections USA, is instructed to post on Clean Elections USA’s website and her Truth Social page that it is not always illegal to deposit multiple ballots in a drop box as well as post a copy of the relevant laws and a link to the judge’s forthcoming written order. The order will be in effect for 14 days.

Read Twitter thread of live Tweets here.

Learn more about the case here.