Following a tumultuous week for Michigan that included the arrests of 13 men plotting to kidnap the governor and storm the capitol building in Lansing, the Department of State sent guidance to election officials clarifying the open carry of guns will be prohibited within 100 feet of any polling place.
As concerns of voter intimidation have increased during the 2020 election season, election officials like Secretary Jocelyn Benson have sought to reassure voters about voting safely.
"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," read a letter sent to Michigan election clerks.
The clarification was sent to clear up potential confusion regarding "uneven application of legal requirements for Michigan’s 1,600 election officials, 30,000 election inspectors, 8 million registered voters, and thousands of challengers and poll watchers on Election Day."
The letter advised people to leave their firearm inside a vehicle parked more than 100 feet away from any building where voting is taking place.
“Fair, free and secure elections are the foundation of our democracy,” said Benson in a statement. “I am committed to ensuring all eligible Michigan citizens can freely exercise their fundamental right to vote without fear of threats, intimidation or harassment. Prohibiting the open-carry of firearms in areas where citizens cast their ballots is necessary to ensure every voter is protected.”
Additionally, election officials will be required to post signage on polling stations that notify voters they may not carry a weapon near the building.
If clerks notice anything suspicious, they're asked to contact local police.
On Thursday, law enforcement charged a 14th person in connection with the domestic terrorism plot, the latest in a series of arrests made concerning plots to kidnap both Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
The individuals planned on carrying out their scheme prior to election day.