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Judge To Decide Intimidation Lawsuit Against Siskiyou County

A district court judge will decide whether a lawsuit can proceed that accuses the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office of intimidating a refugee community to prevent them from voting. The suit was filed in federal court in September. The action follows accusations made in June by the American Civil Liberties Union. That’s when the sheriff’s office issued a press release that said they were investigating possible voter fraud. The statement said the violations involved people registering to vote in areas where they don’t actually live, including in the Hornbrook area and the McCloud area. Sheriff Jon Lopey said some people were cited for violations of the elections code and District Attorney Kirk Andrus warned that anybody with fraudulent registration had better not follow through with a vote on June 7th. The ACLU alleged that was all part of a scheme to instill a fear of voting in the Hmong-American community. Sheriff Lopey called the allegations outrageous and baseless. There were apparently some 200 suspicious voter registration applications, and Lopey says when his deputies visited the addresses they found many were nothing more than parcels of land, some with marijuana growing on them but few residences or no residential water source or sewage system. The sheriff suspected that organized crime had engaged in an aggressive voter registration campaign to try and defeat two anti-marijuana ordinances on the ballot, which ended up passing. The suit points out that no building is necessary to establish residency for the purpose of voting rights, as even homeless people can vote. Also, the plaintiffs say the reason the properties looked abandoned is because the residents were scared away by the presence of officers in tactical gear carrying assault rifles. The suit also says that after the marijuana measures passed, the Hmong residents were disproportionately targeted for enforcement. Many of those criminal cases have been dropped. The civil questions are expected to be thrown out or approved to go forward in court when a judge makes a ruling this week.