Updated May 21, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Arizona groups reach settlement in ballot box voter intimidation lawsuit

Maricopa County election workers remove ballots from a drop box on November 08, 2022 in Mesa, Arizona.

Maricopa County election workers in November at a drop box in Mesa, Arizona, where county officials expressed concern after two armed individuals dressed in tactical gear showed up in October. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

An Arizona activist group agreed Sunday to settle a lawsuit accusing its activists of voter intimidation at ballot drop boxes in the state.

Driving the news: The League of Women Voters of Arizona filed the suit against a group that formerly called itself Clean Elections USA, whose activists gathered at drop boxes last year in efforts they claimed were to prevent ballot fraud, after reports of voter intimidation in the state.

  • The League of Women Voters of Arizona said in a statement that in settling the case, the poll-watching group and its founder Melody Jennings have "agreed to publicly condemn intimidation of any kind in connection with the exercise of the right to vote."

The big picture: A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against Jennings' group in November after the Justice Department weighed in on the case — arguing in a filing that "vigilante ballot security efforts" may have violated the Voting Rights Act.

  • The order prevented the group from going within 75 feet of a ballot drop box, photographing voters, openly carrying firearms or making false statements about election laws.

Of note: The non-partisan state election agency Citizens Clean Elections Commission won an injunction against Jennings and her group preventing them from using the name Clean Elections USA.

What they're saying: "This litigation has been essential to protect the voters of Arizona, who have the right to cast their ballots free from intimidation, threats, or coercion,” said Pinny Sheoran, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona, in the group's statement.

  • Alexander Kolodin, an attorney for Jennings and her group, told the Washington Post Sunday that "both sides value and wish to protect freedom of speech and the right to free assembly while also condemning any sort of voter intimidation."
  • Representatives for Jennings and her group did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with further context.

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