Federal Judge Blocks QAnon Linked Group’s Close-Up Scrutiny of Ballot Drop Boxes
PHOENIX — A federal judge in Arizona issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday that will keep members of a QAnon-linked group from standing within 75 feet of ballot drop boxes and from openly carrying firearms or wearing body armor within 250 feet of those boxes.
U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi, a Trump appointee and long-time member of The Federalist Society, had previously declined to issue a restraining order, ruling that the ballot box watchers were protected under the 1st Amendment.
He changed his mind after several nonprofit voting rights groups suing the QAnon-linked Clean Elections USA asked for limited relief on the ballot box issue.
After hearing more than five hours of testimony on alleged voter intimidation at ballot drop-off locations, Liburdi also barred Clean Elections USA members from following or speaking to voters who use the drop boxes.
The group has claimed that it is watching out for so-called “mules” who are illegally casting multiple ballots.
In a filing in the case earlier this week, the Justice Department suggested that the group’s activities might constitute illegal voter intimidation under the Voting Rights Act.