‘We are watching you’: Anonymous letters warn Arizona Democrats amid voter harassment campaign

Election officials and voting rights advocates warn against a wave of far-right voter intimidation in the state

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 26 October 2022 19:45 BST
Footage captures alleged voter intimidation by group watching ballot box in Maricopa County

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An anonymous group named “Ben Sent Us” has sent threatening letters to Democratic officials in Arizona and posted flyers and stickers throughout the state with a warning: “We are watching you.”

“Retirees with nothing else to do” will file “hundreds” of lawsuits alleging voter fraud, according to the letter. “They will be locating your homes, your social media profiles and pictures and posting them online.”

Judges who are allegedly complicit in what the group perceives as election fraud “will be considered a traitor and dealt with accordingly, as will you,” the letter reads.

An image on the group’s website includes a picture of a noose. One video depicts a man being hanged with text sending a warning to the viewer: “When you’re texting, we are watching. When you’re making the drop, we are watching.”

Ben Sent Us is mentioned several times in two federal lawsuits from Arizona groups alleging masked and armed “vigilantes” and other far-right activists are baselessly accusing voters of committing fraud while photographing them and their vehicles in an effort to stop them from casting their absentee ballots at government drop boxes.

The campaign comes as Arizona election officials and voting rights advocates warn against a wave of far-right voter intimidation in the state and elsewhere, fuelled by baseless election fraud conspiracy theories and Donald Trump’s persistent lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

Both lawsuits target right-wing activist group Clean Elections USA and its founder Melody Jennings, among several defendants accused of violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which prohibits “conspir[ing] to prevent, by force, intimidation, or threat, any citizen who is lawfully entitled to vote, from giving his support or advocacy in a legal manner.”

On her Truth Social account, Ms Jennings shared a link to the Ben Sent Us website and posted an image with “a pair of leering eyes that are identical” to those in the group’s flyers, according to one of the lawsuits.

It remains unclear who is behind Ben Sent Us. The group’s website is hosted by OrangeWebsite, which advertises anonymous and encrypted web hosting, with payment through Bitcoin.

“You will not know us, you will not see us, you will not know what we do,” according to a statement on the group’s website. “We might be your neighbor, your coworker, your cleric, your grocer, or the teacher in your school. We might be the person walking their dog down your street in front of your homes.”

Conspiracy theorists and far-right activists have conflated voters using drop boxes with “mules” illegally hoarding ballots, or falsely believe all forms of voting with absentee or mail-in ballots are ripe for fraud or illegitimate.

Arizona law allows caregivers to deposit several absentee ballots at a time to people to whom they provide care, including people in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and similar residences.

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