Today I will address how you can vote this November, and your right to carry while voting in the upcoming November elections. I will also discuss how to deal with protesters at polling sites.
Carrying at a Polling Station
The same firearm prohibitions apply to any in person voting whether done early or on election day.
While there is no per se law prohibiting carrying while visiting a voting precinct, there may be other factors that may apply in your ability to legally carrying while voting. Often schools are used as voting sites. It is a felony to possess a firearm on educational property regardless of whether school is in session or not. Sometimes polling places are in federal or state buildings. Carrying a firearm into a federal or state building is prohibited. Local municipalities have the authority to prohibit carrying while in one of its facilities as do other polling places such as churches.
In short, normal carry laws apply, if it is a place you can otherwise carry, you are within your rights to do so. If you are uncertain about your right to carry into the polling site, I suggest leaving you gun in your locked car. Just make sure it is out of sight, so no one tries to break in and steal it.
Demonstrations and Protests
What if you encounter a large demonstration on you way to vote? What should you do? The key is to avoid confrontation, de-escalate, and remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible. Check with local media sources before heading to the polls to avoid any trouble spots.
There should be no issues at the polling site. State law creates a “buffer zone” of at least 25 feet and normally 50 feet from the entrance of a polling site. In this buffer zone electioneering is prohibited and this would include protestors. If you encounter anyone who you believe is trying to intimidate you regarding your vote, notify an election officer immediately. If a group is preventing you from entering a polling site call 9-1-1. Do not try to force your way through and certainly do not use, or even threaten to use, deadly force. If you are concerned about your safety while voting you should apply for an absentee ballot.
If you have any questions about carrying a firearm while voting, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to me, your Independent Program Attorney.
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