Think for a moment about where you go to vote.
Is it a church or a school in a nice, safe part of town? Or is it in a part of your community that’s a little sketchy? Truth be told, I’ve dealt with both in my life. Voting is important, though, so I take the risk.
In some states, those with such concerns can carry a firearm to the polls.
Still, others may openly carry a firearm to make some kind of a point and do so at the polls for whatever reason.
In Michigan, some want to ban guns in polling places entirely and claim it’s good for voting rights.
The history and present of the fight for voting rights has turned, in part, on not just whether people technically had the legal right to vote but also whether they would be safe in exercising that right. Protecting the right to vote has always meant protecting voters. Our election workers and elected officials likewise must be able to do their critical work in safety.
The threats and incidents that have marked recent elections across the country, including armed patrols of ballot drop boxes, and armed individuals planning to converge on ballot counting spaces, underscore the need for action. So, too, do the images of armed extremists roaming the halls of the Capitol in Lansing in April 2020.
Even in the absence of actual violence, the threats are a form of intimidation and coercion. Intimidating individuals into not exercising their rights is simply another form of depriving individuals of those rights. We want people exercising their rights to vote and/or to petition their government not only to be safe but also to feel safe.
It is past time to take basic steps to safeguard the spaces where core constitutional rights are exercised. Prohibiting the carrying of firearms into or close to these spaces will safeguard these spaces in actuality, as well as in perception.
Except, I’m at a loss how someone lawfully carrying a firearm is intimidation or coercion.
Demonstrations tend to be restricted around polling places, which means what they’re talking about are people who just happen to be carrying a firearm on their person when they’re voting.
It’s ironic that they use the phrase “safeguard the spaces where core constitutional rights are exercised” while trying to restrict a core constitutional right.
But is there intimidation and coercion taking place?
It’s unlikely, even if someone is carrying a firearm. If so, that’s a crime and should be prosecuted, but unless an actual threat is present, any feelings of intimidation are in the head of someone.
This is especially true since absolutely no one knows how you vote.
It’s kind of difficult to influence your vote through intimidation when literally no one will know how you vote anyway.
What the authors of this piece are complaining about, though, isn’t a real threat. They’re not citing actual instances of armed people bullying and threatening people to vote for a given candidate. They’re just freaking out because they see guns as scary and are sure literally everyone else does.
That’s not a voting rights issue. That’s a sanity issue, and the authors should seek therapy because lawfully carrying a firearm isn’t a threat to you, it’s not intimidation, and it’s not something that should impact your voting unless you’re too unhinged to be trusted with a vote in the first place.