Arizona Criminalizes Free Speech in Polling Places;  AFPI Files Federal Lawsuit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A federal lawsuit filed today challenges the Grand Canyon state’s election procedures under the First Amendment, claiming new restrictions mean something as simple as wearing the wrong colored hat to a polling place could be a crime.

The suit, filed by a group of plaintiffs, including the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) against Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, alleges Arizona’s recently updated Election Procedures Manual criminalizes Arizonans’ free speech with new restrictions. The lawsuit offers examples such as a voter expressing frustration due to downed voting machines as a new category of potential crime or wearing a red hat that someone claims is offensive.

“It is outrageous that simply wearing a red ball cap to a polling place could be criminal,” said Ken Blackwell, Chair of the Center for Election Integrity at AFPI, which filed the lawsuit with the law firm Holtzman Vogel PLLC.

The latest controversy is part of a pattern in Arizona. The state recently attempted to prohibit citizens from watching and monitoring polling locations, restrictions AFPI also challenged.

Blackwell said the latest handbook changes, unchallenged, could unconstitutionally censor protected speech.

“The right to vote and the right to free speech are two of the most cherished expressions of liberty in America. Secretary Fontes’ unconstitutional actions threaten those fundamental rights. We’ll fight to ensure elections are free and fair and adhere to one simple principle: It should be easy to vote but hard to cheat.”

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. Once the case is assigned to a judge, the court could quickly decide to order a hearing.

Read AFPI’s lawsuit against Arizona here.


Join The

By providing your information, you become a member of America First Policy Institute and consent to receive emails. By checking the opt in box, you consent to receive recurring SMS/MMS messages. Message and data rates may apply. Message frequency varies. Text STOP to opt-out or HELP for help. SMS opt in will not be sold, rented, or shared. You can view our Privacy Policy and Mobile Terms of Service here.