Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is attempting to restrict open carry of firearms in all polling stations for the upcoming election. Several sheriffs across the state are calling her directive illegal and refusing to enforce it.
Weeks ago Benson sent a letter to all clerks throughout the state informing them that open carry of firearms would not be permitted in any polling stations. The directive would include a ban on open carry in clerk’s offices and absent voter counting locations as well. The move would also outlaw open carry within one hundred feet of any building entrance used by voters.
Michigan sheriffs won’t enforce the ban
The controversial move comes just weeks after the FBI uncovered an anti-government paramilitary group’s plot to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and put her “on trial.”
With the election just days away, tensions are running high in America. We’ve already witnessed protests, riots and civil unrest in cities across the country.
Some election officials are concerned about voter intimidation and the potential for political violence both during and after the election.
Secretary Benson believes “Openly displaying firearms may cause disruption, fear, or intimidation for voters, election workers, and others present.”
Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel said the Secretary’s actions are illegal and he’s refusing to enforce it. “She doesn’t have the authority to make laws,” Schendel told reporters. Several other sheriffs across the state are also making a stand against what they feel is an unconstitutional directive.
Election workers have been instructed to contact authorities if they witness anyone violating the ban by open carrying around polling stations. The head of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police said their officers won’t be able to enforce the ban because it isn’t based on law.
What do the courts say?
A judge just blocked the ban on open carry in polling stations, proving the sheriffs right. In a swift victory for second amendment advocates in Michigan, Judge Christopher Murray struck down the ban just hours after hearing from concerned citizens.
He claims Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson exceeded her authority when she attempted to ban people from open carrying firearms in and around polling locations. She failed to go through the formal law making process required to make her directive official.
With just days before the election, Democratic law makers intend to immediately appeal the judge’s decision. “We are disappointed in today’s decision from the Court of Claims. Voters deserve the right to cast their ballot free from intimidation in any form.”