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Michigan announces ban on open carry weapons at polling locations

Michigan announces ban on open carry weapons at polling locations

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) on Friday announced a statewide ban on open carry weapons at polling locations, clerk’s offices and absent voter counting boards on Nov. 3. 

Benson issued a directive to local election clerks statewide banning open carry of firearms in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place is located. Concealed carry is prohibited in any building where it's already prohibited unless someone is authorized to do so. 

Outside of 100 feet of a polling place, election inspectors are instructed to contact law enforcement if someone is acting in a way “that would tend to intimidate, hinder or impede voters on the way to the polls.” 

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The announcement comes amid nationwide concern over security at polling locations, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE’s reelection campaign’s call for poll watchers to be dispatched across the country sparked fears of voter intimidation. 

The campaign has argued that poll watchers are essential to combat voter fraud, despite numerous studies failing to find widespread evidence of voter fraud at polling sites or by mail. 

During the first presidential debate last month, Trump urged his supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully,” to make sure ballots aren’t “manipulated.” His son, Donald Trump Jr., previously urged “every able-bodied man, woman to join [the] army for Trump’s election security operation.” 

Amnesty International USA even launched a campaign this month calling on the nation’s governors to ban guns at and around polling places, saying the weapons could be used to intimidate Black and hispanic voters. 

Meanwhile, Michigan has been in the spotlight since the FBI foiled a terror plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Tipping point week for Trump, Biden, Congress, voters Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Democrats condemn Trump's rhetoric against Michigan governor as allies defend rally MORE (D). The state on Thursday arrested and charged an eighth man for providing support in the plot to kidnap her. 

Benson’s guidance only applies to Election Day, and does not apply to law enforcement officers acting in the course of their duties.

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