Attorney asks judge to dismiss bid to restrain ballot-box watchers

PHOENIX — An attorney for the founder of Clean Elections USA asked a federal judge Wednesday to dismiss a bid to restrain her ability or those of its members to monitor drop boxes in Arizona.

Veronica Lucero said the request by Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans and Voto Latino is overly broad, seeking to bar activities that are constitutionally protected. She told U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi that any such efforts must be considered under a “strict scrutiny” standard.

That requires those seeking to limit the actions of others must show not just a compelling need for such an order, but also that it is narrowly tailored to be the least restrictive way to deal with the problem.

And the limits the group seeks on Clean Elections USA, Lucero said, go beyond that, seeking to prevent lawful activities like monitoring drop boxes from at least 75 feet away and photographing those who use the boxes.

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But Lucero also told the judge there’s a more basic reason he should throw out the case. She said there is no evidence that Clean Elections USA or its founder, Melody Jennings, are actually involved in any of the cases of voter intimidation that are occurring in Arizona.

“Plaintiffs have gathered together some internet postings,” Lucero said, acknowledging that Jennings has urged followers to monitor drop boxes.

“They have pointed to some complaints of voter intimidation,” she continued. “But there’s no connection between that and the defendants’ actions, Ms. Jennings and her organization which is unaffiliated, doesn’t have legal status.”

Lucero even got Saundra Cole, president of the Arizona Association of Retired Americans, to admit on the stand that she has no proof that anyone who has been approaching voters in Maricopa County is associated with Clean Elections USA.

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