As the 2020 election season comes around, recent events can make it unclear what to expect when gun owners prepare to vote. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to voting in this year’s elections.
Carrying at a Polling Station
The possession of firearms and other weapons is prohibited within 150 feet of any place where polling for a primary or an election is taking place. Though there is no direct reference to early voting in the statute, it is reasonable to believe this prohibition can be applied to any government-operated early voting location. Many polling locations are found at places where firearms are not ordinarily prohibited, such as churches (with permission) and government buildings (under exceptions).
However, while voting is taking place, those locations become off-limits for firearms and other weapons. Federal, state, county, or municipal peace officers are exempt from the exclusion of firearms at a polling place, as well as certified security guards. O.C.G.A. § 21-2-413.
Demonstrations and Protests
What can you do to avoid demonstrations, large crowds, and/or potential altercations when you head out to vote?
Plan ahead. Look at social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms are all resources you can consult to find out what your neighbor’s experiences have been when they went to vote. Homeowner Associations’ Facebook groups are a great way to keep up with those who have voted earlier in the day and find out what to look out for and where potential trouble may be lurking.
If you do unfortunately find yourself confronted by protestors, I urge you to keep a level head and attempt to avoid escalating the situation. Remember, that if you engage protesters and wind up in an altercation, you may wind up being arrested prior to getting to cast your vote. This may be the goal of some protestors who are looking to keep those with opposing views from voting.
Voting is a critical civil right and responsibility that we enjoy, and I encourage everyone to vote. After all, every vote counts.
If you have any questions about carrying at the polls or what to do if you encounter protestors while attempting to vote, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak with your Independent Program Attorney.
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