WASHINGTON, D.C. — The number of reports of possible voter intimidation referred by the Arizona secretary of state’s office to the Arizona attorney general and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has risen to six. Just a few days after early voting began on Oct. 12, the first reported incident occurred on Monday, Oct. 17, when a voter was followed as they attempted to drop off their ballot at a drop box in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix. Video footage of the incident was later obtained by ABC15 Arizona.
Several days later, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) referred two more reports of voter intimidation to the relevant law enforcement agencies. In both cases, voters were filmed by “election security” vigilantes monitoring drop boxes and their license plates photographed. The latest report includes harassment of an election worker. “Voter intimidation is illegal, and no voter should feel threatened or intimidated when trying to vote. Anyone attempting to interfere with that right should be reported,” wrote Hobbs in a statement. “Voter harassment may include gathering around ballot drop boxes questioning voters, brandishing weapons, taking pictures of people voting and following or chasing voters who are attempting to drop off their ballots.” Two armed individuals were spotted at a drop box in Mesa last Friday.
The DOJ has not publicly responded to Arizona’s request, but on Monday during a press conference, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed that the DOJ “will not permit voters to be intimidated.” When pressed about specific actions by the DOJ, Garland responded “no comment.”
In light of these incidents, as well as other reports of voter intimidation, a retirees association and Latino voting organization, filed a lawsuit on Oct. 24 against Clean Elections USA, the group recruiting and encouraging individuals to monitor drop boxes in Arizona. The suit argues that the alleged “coordinated campaign of vigilante voter intimidation” violates both the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act. The civic groups have requested a temporary restraining order to immediately prevent Clean Elections USA from further engaging in intimidation.