Friday, November 27, 2020

Judge strikes down open-carry firearm ban at polls, Nessel issues emergency appeal

October 28, 2020
<p>Volunteers help students during their voting process at the District 13 polling precinct in IM Sports East. The Michigan primary took place March 10, 2020.</p>

Volunteers help students during their voting process at the District 13 polling precinct in IM Sports East. The Michigan primary took place March 10, 2020.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

On Tuesday, a Michigan judge reversed Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s directive banning open-carry firearms at Michigan polling places in order to prevent voter intimidation.

Michigan Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray wrote in his 14-page opinion that both plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction, which is to revert to the status quo that existed before the directive.

Attorney General Dana Nessel also said that she filed an emergency appeal against Murray’s opinion Wednesday. The appeal argues that her directive does not constitute a rule as described by the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) of 1969 and is therefore a valid and fair directive.

Nessel said that there will not be law enforcement at Michigan polls but that they will be on standby if needed.

Murray argued that the directive is a rule as defined in the APA and that it must be put in place through the APA process.

The opinion strikes down Benson’s Oct. 16 directive prohibiting open carry firearms at a polling place or within 100 feet of a polling place.

“The presence of firearms at the polling place, clerk’s office(s), or absent voter counting board may cause disruption, fear, or intimidation for voters, election workers, and others present,” the directive said.

Benson relied on the Secretary of State’s power as chief election officer, which allows the Secretary of State supervisory control over local election officials in the performance of their duties.

Following Murray’s decision, Nessel's office announced their intent in a press release to appeal his decision.

“We intend to immediately appeal the judge’s decision as this issue is of significant public interest and importance to our election process,” the press release said.

In a live press conference on Wednesday streamed on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, Nessel said that the polls will be safe. 

“We will have this resolved by Nov. 3, and we will make it exactly clear what the rules are and are not prior to people going into the polls on that particular day,” she said.

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