Lansing House passes bills to ban guns at polling places, ballot drop boxes

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published November 10, 2023

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LANSING — On Nov. 9, the Michigan House of Representatives passed two bills in an effort to safeguard voters, poll workers, and polling places from gun violence.

The legislation, known officially as Michigan House Bill 4127 and Michigan House Bill 4128, would ban guns at or near polling places, early voting sites, ballot drop boxes, and locations where absentee ballots are counted. The bills would prohibit firearms within a polling place or early voting site or within 100 feet of one. The other would prohibit firearms within 100 feet of an absentee ballot counting board while ballots are being counted They would also be banned from Inside a city or township clerk’s office or official satellite office, or within 100 feet of an entrance to those offices, during the 40 days prior to an election, if a voter can drop off their absentee ballot in person with their city or township clerk.

Law enforcement officers would be exempt from this law and the prohibition would not apply to individuals who live within 100 feet of an election location and possess a firearm in their residence. Violators could be punished by up to 90 days’ imprisonment, a fine of up to $100, or both.

If the bills are signed into law, Michigan would join 18 states as well as the District of Columbia that currently prohibit open carry at polling sites and eight states and the District of Columbia that currently ban open carry at drop boxes.

Sean Morales-Doyle, director of the Voting Rights Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, applauded the passages in a press release.

"Most states lack basic protections for voters and election workers from gun violence at and around voting and vote-counting sites,” he wrote. “Today’s votes show that Michigan lawmakers are moving in the right direction with common sense legislation to protect voters and election workers. American elections are, by and large, safe. But the Michiganders who help administer elections have been subject to threats and intimidation. Regulating guns near voting is necessary, and it’s constitutional, as the U.S. Supreme Court noted in 2022. Michigan’s voters deserve urgent action, and the Michigan House has given them that.”