Benson bans open carry of firearms at polls on Election Day

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson at the 2019 Mackinac Policy Conference..jpg
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has issued a ban on openly carried firearms at the polls on Election Day. (WWMT/File)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Friday that openly carried firearms would be prohibited on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020, in polling locations, clerk's offices and absent voter counting boards.

In a written statement, she said the ban was intended to curb potential voter intimidation.

“Fair, free and secure elections are the foundation of our democracy,” Benson said. “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.”

According to the statement, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan State Police Director Col. Joe Gasper had informed local law enforcement agencies about the ban to ensure enforcement.

“The open carry of a firearm is prohibited in a polling place, 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," Benson said.

The statement said guidance would be issued to law enforcement on security issues that could potentially impact the election.

Benson encouraged voters who witnessed intimidation or unlawful conduct at the polls to report the situation to an election worker or official and document it as clearly as possible. She said 911 should be called first if the voter was in immediate danger.