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Open-carried firearms banned in Michigan polling places

Open carrying a firearm, Photo Date: 6/25/09 / Photo: Lucio Eastman / CC BY 2.0 / (MGN)
Open carrying a firearm, Photo Date: 6/25/09 / Photo: Lucio Eastman / CC BY 2.0 / (MGN)(GIM)
Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 10:54 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Anyone heading to the polls on Nov. 3 will need to leave their firearms hidden or outside.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent communication to local clerks around the state clarifying that open-carried firearms are not allowed in polling locations. The same ban also remains in effect for clerk’s office and absent voter counting boards on Election Day.

The directive from Benson prohibits openly carrying firearms in the polling place, a hallway used by voters or within 100 feet of the building entrance for voters. She said openly carried firearms “may cause disruption, fear, or intimidation for voters, election workers, and others present.”

“Fair, free and secure elections are the foundation of our democracy,” said Benson. “I am committed to ensuring all eligible Michigan citizens can freely exercise their fundamental right to vote without fear of threats, intimidation or harassment. Prohibiting the open-carry of firearms in areas where citizens cast their ballots is necessary to ensure every voter is protected.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper agreed with Benson’s directive.

“Michigan voters have the right to vote in person on Election Day free from threat and intimidation," Nessel said. "An armed presence at the polls is inconsistent with our notion of a free democracy. I stand with the Secretary in her commitment to ensure that every eligible voter who wants to vote in person can do so safely and without fear or intimidation.”

Nessel and Michigan State Police will be issuing guidance to police agencies around the state to clarify Benson’s directive and help ensure uniform enforcement.

“Michiganders should know that law enforcement across multiple levels is working together to ensure that anyone who wishes to exercise their right to vote in-person on election day can do so safely and without the threat of intimidation,” Gasper said.

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