Michigan will prohibit the open carry of guns at polling places and other official voting locations on Election Day, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced Friday.
The announcement comes one week after federal authorities announced they had uncovered an alleged domestic terror plot to kidnap the state’s governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer. The plot, as well as armed protests at the statehouse against coronavirus lockdowns have raised concerns about security at polling locations.
The ban, which will be backed by the state attorney general and state police, prohibits Michigan residents from open-carrying firearms “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.”
“The presence of firearms at the polling place, clerk’s office(s), or absent voter counting board may cause disruption, fear, or intimidation for voters, election workers, and others present,” Benson said in a press release.
Benson, who is Michigan’s top election official, continued, “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.”
The ban applies only to Election Day and does not include early voting procedures.
State Attorney General Dana Nessel expressed support of the ban saying, “Michigan voters have the right to vote in person on Election Day free from threat and intimidation.”
“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 said.
Tiffany Brown, a spokesperson for Whitmer, told CNN the administration “supports efforts to keep our election safe and secure.”
“All voters have the right to vote safely without fear of intimidation or violence,” Brown said.
Recent polls show Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading President Trump by an average of more than 6 points in the state, which has 16 electoral votes up for grabs.