Voters react to federal judge denying request for more restrictions at ballot drop box sites

Images of armed men wearing tactical gear at Maricopa County drop box sites have sparked new concerns about voter intimidation.
Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 4:38 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - There were lots of people dropping off their early ballots Friday, with no issues and no confrontations with vigilante monitors. But not everyone is so lucky. Images of armed men wearing tactical gear at Maricopa County drop box sites have sparked new concerns about voter intimidation.

A Mesa voter claims she dropped off her ballot at a drop box on Tuesday when someone camped out there took a video of her on their cell phone. “I should be able to drop off my ballot without worrying about someone recording me, what kind of personal info they may get, if they think I did something illegal when I’m just dropping off my ballot,” the voter said.

The woman reported the incident to the Secretary of State’s office. So did a number of other voters, who say they were targets of intimidation.

The complaints prompted several nonprofit groups to file a lawsuit in Federal Court, asking a judge to establish stricter restrictions at ballot drop box sites to prevent incidents of voter intimidation. However, the request was denied on Friday. The U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi said, “While this case certainly presents serious questions, the Court cannot craft an injunction without violating the First Amendment.”

The concerned voter doesn’t want what happened to her to stop people from voting, but she is worried Friday’s court ruling will lead to more voter intimidation leading up to Election Day. “I’m concerned if someone doesn’t get their ballot in on time, things might escalate,” said the voter. “I do worry that it could deter voters in the end.”

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said earlier this week that voter intimidation is not always a criminal act, but that doesn’t make it right and doesn’t help the election process. Penzone is encouraging people not to camp out at ballot boxes, even though they have a legal right to be there. Anyone who yells or tries to influence a voter could be breaking the law and face criminal charges, Penzone said.