DOJ ‘Will Not Permit Voters to be Intimidated’ Following Sighting of Armed Vigilantes: Attorney General

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U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed on Oct. 25 that the Department of Justice (DOJ) “will not permit voters to be intimidated” during the 2022 midterm elections.

“The Justice Department has an obligation to guarantee a free and fair vote by everyone who’s qualified to vote and will not permit voters to be intimidated,” Garland said during an unrelated news conference in Washington.

Garland was answering a question about armed “vigilantes” recently being spotted near a ballot drop box in Arizona.

The Maricopa County Elections Department shared several pictures of the Oct. 21 incident on Twitter, showing two men dressed in tactical gear and armed with magazines at a ballot drop box in the city of Mesa, located east of Phoenix.

Officials said the two individuals left the site of the ballot drop box after a response from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office at the request of the elections department.

Arizona law prohibits people from openly carrying a firearm within the 75-foot limit of a voting location, according to the state’s guidance on voting place conduct.

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer released a joint statement on Oct. 22 to address the matter.

“Uninformed vigilantes outside Maricopa County’s drop boxes are not increasing election integrity. Instead, they are leading to voter intimidation complaints,” the statement reads.

“Although monitoring and transparency in our elections is critical, voter intimidation is unlawful,” it continued. “For those who want to be involved in election integrity, become a poll worker or an official observer with your political party. Don’t dress in body armor to intimidate voters as they are legally returning their ballots.”

Increase in Reports of Potential Voter Intimidation

The incident comes just days after a couple reported a potential case of voter intimidation outside another ballot drop box in Mesa.

In that particular incident, the unnamed voter who attempted to cast their ballot was reportedly “approached and followed by a group of individuals,” Sophia Solis, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, told The Hill.

The office has referred the case of the alleged voter intimidation to the DOJ and the state’s attorney general office for investigation.

During Monday’s briefing, Garland declined to answer directly whether the agency would get involved in the case.

Gates, meanwhile, said in a statement on Twitter that election workers in the county were being harassed as they come to work.

“We aren’t going to stand by while our election workers who are your friends, family members [and] neighbors get harassed for doing their jobs,” the chairman said. “When you observe elections, please do it respectfully.”

From NTD News

Lorenz Duchamps

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