It’s legal to bring guns to the polls in many swing states. What could go wrong?

It’s legal to bring guns to the polls in many swing states. What could go wrong?

Within the space of 12 hours on Election Day 2016, the Election Protection hotline received calls from 85 voters in 28 states who reported seeing guns at the polls. This year, that threat is heightened. Gun sales have skyrocketed to all-time highs during the pandemic, especially among first-time owners. The line between poll watching and voter intimidation has blurred , as Republicans are officially conscripting citizens for an “ Army for Trump ,” and there’s been a rise in the activity of armed, far-right gangs that have already brandished semiautomatic weapons at protests this year. In addition to quashing turnout, the presence of guns poses a real threat of violence. According to Giffords Law Center’s website: “Guns at the polls are a tinder box near an open flame.” In response, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson just announced a directive that affirmatively forbids individuals from carrying guns into polling places on Election Day. But other competitive swing states, which remain the focus of voter drives by both parties, are still without such official pronouncements. As threats of armed voter intimidation loom, with the intent to lower turnout among certain communities on November 3, gun reform groups are hoping those states’ attorneys general will pass similar laws. In either case, poll workers will likely be the first line of defense. Benson’s announcement in Michigan prohibits the open carry of firearms within 100 feet of entrances to polling places, clerks’ offices, or absentee-vote-counting sites. With that ruling, Michigan joins only six […]

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