TUCSON, Ariz. – Today, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to protect Arizonans from voter intimidation at the voting booth and voter drop boxes. This includes expeditiously providing monitors at polling locations, drop boxes and tabulation centers where incidents of harassment or unlawful interference have occurred, have been reported or are likely to occur; investigating the coordinated attempts to intimidate and harass Arizona voters at drop boxes and other locations; and the numerous, unprecedented threats to election workers and officials in Arizona.
“These unprecedented and systematic attacks on the rights of voters, the safety of election officials, and the validity of our election procedures requires a swift and concerted response from Department of Justice officials to protect the rights of Arizona voters,” wrote Rep Grijalva. “We urge you to take all necessary steps to protect the rights of Arizona voters to cast their ballot free of intimidation, ensure that federal law is properly followed by elected officials, and investigate the numerous threats to elections officials for simply fulfilling their duty to our democracy. Armed individuals stationed outside ballot boxes send a very clear message – intimidation. These individuals should be made aware now of any potential prosecution for violation of federal voter intimidation laws. A failure to actively intervene and monitor election procedures in Arizona and work with local election officials to enforce state and federal law, inform voters of their rights and individuals of potential violations of law could lead to the fostering of greater conspiracies, growing attempts to intimidate voters, and escalating threats to our voting rights and systems.”
Recently in Arizona, there have been numerous threats to voters and local elected leaders by individuals clearly trying to intimidate voters, including:
- A group of armed, masked individuals stating they are associated with the organization Clean Election USA, are monitoring polling locations in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, filming and photographing persons who drop off their ballots, taking pictures of their license plates, and harassing voters.
- Ten cases of alleged voter intimidation at drop box locations in Arizona have been referred to DOJ by Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. Five of the six complaints occurred outside ballot drop boxes in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona including an incident where 5 or 6 men approached a couple in their 70s and took pictures of their license plate and car. Two groups in Yavapai County, the Yavapai County Preparedness Team and the Lions of Liberty, announced plans to monitor ballot drop boxes in Yavapai County.
- Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, a former board member of the Oath Keepers militia, and founder of Protect America Now, is an adherent to the “constitutional sheriff movement … which was built around a radical ideology that the sheriff’s power within his or her county is superseded by no state or federal government entity and is guided by the sheriff’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.” Sheriff Lamb has made comments declaring that “[w]e’re gonna [sic] make sure that we have election integrity this year” and claiming “[s]heriffs are going enforce the law … we will not let what happened in 2020.”
- Numerous election officials, including Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman, the former Yavapai County recorder and election director, as well as numerous other state and county election officials, have been subjected to harassments and threats. The threats have become so frequent and severe that many election officials have chosen to resign.
- On October 24, 2022, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors voted to hand-count all votes cast under its jurisdiction, in violation of Arizona law, and against the counsel of their own county attorney who repeatedly advised them the proposal was unlawful.
The full letter to Attorney General Garland can be found here.