ELECTION 2020 FAQ: Can I carry a firearm to my polling place?

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This Tuesday, April 28, 2020 file photo shows Jerome Fedor, left, voting using social distancing at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, in Cleveland, Ohio. Ohio’s elections chief says his office plans to remove about 120,000 inactive Ohio voter registrations from state voter rolls after the November election. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

QUESTION: Can I carry a firearm to my polling place?

ANSWER: You cannot bring a firearm into certain polling places.

According to Chapter 11.2.2 of the Virginia Department of Elections’ Election Day Handbook, weapons are prohibited from the following polling places:

  • Public, private, or religious elementary, middle, or high schools — this extends to the building and grounds of these institutions,
  • Courthouses,
  • And any private property location used as a polling place with an owner-established policy restricting or prohibiting the presence of weapons.

Voter advocates hoping to stave off intimidation at polls 

If your polling place is not one of those, then you can bring a firearm.

However, the VDE’s handbook says if a person with a weapon may be removed from a polling place “if they are acting in a way to intimidate, hinder or interfere with any qualified voter as to prevent them from casting a secret ballot, or are acting in a noisy or riotous manner.”

If a person in possession of a weapon or firearm is acting in violation of Virginia law, the officers of the election may first order the person to stop. If the person does not stop, the officers of election, or a majority of them, may order the arrest of the individual by a law enforcement officer.


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