Temporary restraining order sought against group linked to voter intimidation allegations in Arizona

An association for retirees and an organization for Latino voters are seeking a temporary restraining order against a group they allege is coordinating a campaign of voter intimidation in Arizona.

The restraining order request was filed Monday evening with a federal court lawsuit alleging that the group Clean Elections USA and its founder, Melody Jennings, were running afoul of federal law with incidents near ballot drop box locations in Arizona.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of a “coordinated campaign of vigilante voter intimidation” in violation of the Voting Rights Act and federal civil rights law.

Clean Elections USA did not respond to a CNN inquiry.

A status conference has been scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. in a federal courthouse in Phoenix.

The lawsuit points to three complaints that have been submitted by voters to election officials in the state. The complaints reported individuals photographing the license plates of the voters as they sought to cast ballots via drop boxes, with one complaint alleging that the individuals called the voters a “mule,” a reference to a fringe voter fraud conspiracy theory.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office has referred those and similar complaints of intimidation to the US Justice Department.

The new lawsuit also cited social media postings from Jennings and other public comments she has given that the lawsuit says show her group is connected to the alleged conduct.

“Defendants’ organized vigilante groups have already turned away voters. Under any circumstance, Defendants’ conduct would be objectively intimidating,” the lawsuit states. “But, in the current charged political climate, Defendants’ actions carry with them exacerbated threats. There is no guarantee that the crowds that Defendants have mobilized and are continuing to stoke will remain peaceful.”

The retirees’ association, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans, noted that its members’ preference for using drop boxes makes them particularly likely to be subjected to the alleged intimidation. Voto Latino, the Latino voters’ organization, said it was being forced to divert resources to educate its constituents on what the lawsuit calls the new “hostile” environment for voting.

The organizations are seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would bar the defendants “from gathering within sight of drop boxes; from following, taking photos of, or otherwise recording voters or prospective voters, those assisting voters or prospective voters, or their vehicles at or around a drop box; and from training, organizing, or directing others to do those activities.”

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