A judge granted a temporary restraining order on Tuesday against an election watchdog group, setting back efforts to enforce election integrity in a crucial swing state.
According to Politico, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Liburdi has forbidden the group Clean Elections USA from getting too close to ballot drop-boxes. Liburdi had previously refused to implement restrictions on ballot-watchers, but allowed the group Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans to make another case as to why such poll-watchers should have certain limitations placed on them.
Members of Clean Elections now legally cannot come within 75 feet of any drop-boxes, and are also not allowed to speak to anyone within 75 feet of the boxes; in addition, they are forbidden from open-carrying firearms within 250 feet of any drop-boxes.
The judge also ordered several members of the watchdog group to post statements on their social media accounts denouncing their own beliefs on the legality of ballot-harvesting, the act of delivering multiple ballots on behalf of others. Liburdi wrote out exactly what he wanted the defendants to say: “It is not always illegal to deposit multiple ballots in a ballot drop box. It is legal to deposit the ballot of a family member, household member or person for whom you are the caregiver.”
Additionally, Liburdi ruled that the group is banned from taking pictures of anyone who deposits ballots at drop-boxes, and subsequently distributing any such pictures.
Liburdi said that his order takes effect immediately and will remain in place for two weeks. An attorney for Clean Elections USA has responded by declaring that such a broad restraining order is unconstitutional.
The ruling has implications for efforts to crack down on voter fraud in the aftermath of the 2020 election. When judges and other federal and state authorities largely failed to contest the questionable results of the election, several watchdog and non-profit groups took up the burden of proving that there was mass systemic fraud in the election.
The most prominent example comes from the group True the Vote, whose efforts to gather data on ballot-harvesting activists in key swing states, known as “mules,” were documented in Dinesh D’Souza’s movie “2,000 Mules.” Two of the leading figures behind True the Vote’s work and the stars of D’Souza’s film, Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips, were ordered by a Texas judge to be placed under arrest for refusing to reveal several of the sources behind their data.