WASHINGTON (AP) — Reports of people watching ballot boxes in Arizona, sometimes armed or wearing ballistic vests, raise serious concerns about voter intimidation, the Justice Department said Monday as it stepped into a lawsuit over the monitoring.
The statement from the Justice Department comes days after a federal judge refused to bar a group from monitoring the outdoor drop boxes in the suburbs of Phoenix.
Threats, intimidation and coercion are illegal under the federal Voting Rights Act, even if they doesn’t succeed, the government’s attorneys wrote.
While lawful poll watching can support transparency, “ballot security forces” present a significant risk of voter intimidation, the court documents state.
The Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans is appealing the order in the swing state with several closely contested races this year.
The group sued a group calling itself Clean Elections USA after reports that people were watching 24-hour ballot boxes in Maricopa County, including some who were masked and armed.
Complaints that people were watching the boxes, taking photos and videos, and following voters alarmed local and federal law enforcement. »