A federal judge in Colorado has rejected efforts by individuals involved with the United States Election Integrity Plan (USEIP), an extremist organization with ties to QAnon and the January 6 insurrection, to defeat a lawsuit seeking to stop their illegal voter intimidation campaign in Colorado.

  1. Background

The lawsuit—filed by Free Speech For People and the law firm of Lathrop GPM on behalf of three voting rights organizations, the Colorado Montana Wyoming State Conference of the NAACP, League of Women Voters of Colorado, and Mi Familia Vota—alleges that USEIP and three of its key organizers (Shawn Smith, Ashley Epp, and Holly Kasun) are violating the Voting Rights Act and the Ku Klux Klan Act through their campaign of visiting voters’ homes and intimidating voters on their own doorsteps for having voted in the 2020 election.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, which the court denied in April 2022. Then the defendants filed counterclaims against the voting rights organizations, accusing them of defamation and abuse of process and demanding that the voting rights organizations be ordered to pay money damages. 

Next, the defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings and then a separate motion for summary judgment, arguing that voting rights organizations can’t sue under the Voting Rights Act or the Ku Klux Klan Act; that the defendants couldn’t be liable under the Ku Klux Klan Act without specific proof of racial animus; that the defendants couldn’t be liable under the Ku Klux Klan Act because they’re not government agents; that there was insufficient evidence of voter intimidation to justify a trial; and that USEIP, an unincorporated association, can’t be sued under the Voting Rights Act or the Ku Klux Klan Act.

  1. Court denies defendants’ attempts to defeat lawsuit before trial

On January 23, 2023, the court dismissed the defamation and abuse of process counterclaims. Then on January 31, the court denied the defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings and, with one exception, the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. 

The defendants only prevailed on one small point: that unincorporated associations are not amenable to suit in the Tenth Circuit under the Voting Rights Act or Ku Klux Klan Act. The judge reluctantly agreed, finding that Tenth Circuit precedent (with which she disagreed in a detailed footnote) required that result, but she would have ruled the other way if not bound by Tenth Circuit precedent. (Federal courts in other parts of the country do allow such lawsuits against unincorporated associations.) 

With the counterclaims dismissed and the court agreeing that the core voter intimidation claims may proceed, the case may now proceed to trial. 

Read the court’s January 31 decision.

Read more about the case.