Concealed Carry in Polling Places
It’s that time of year where we get alot of questions about concealed carry in polling places. As a preliminary point this article will only apply to our readers in Ohio. These laws are very specific and vary from state to state.
Ohio does not have any specific law banning people from carrying firearms into a polling place. However, due to the locations of the vast majority polling places, most people will be unable to carry at their polling place.
Ohio Revised Code 2923.16 bans carrying firearms into schools, churches, and government facilities (there are exceptions to each category). It so happens that in Ohio these are the most common polling places. Therefore, if your polling place is located in a school or on school grounds, a church, or government owned building such as a police or fire station, it is illegal to carry your firearm into the polling place.
However, something many gun owners might miss is that there is an argument that firearms in polling places are inherently banned by R.C. 2923.126(B)(9) which bans carrying in a government facility (with exceptions). The law defines government facility in part as any building leased by the government where government employees are regularly at the leased premises as a part of their official duties. There is some question over whether this would apply. An argument could be made that it doesn’t apply because government workers are not regularly at the polling place and are only there for a very limited time. On the other hand, it could be argued that it does apply because government employees are regularly present for the life of the lease even if it is only a couple of days. Unfortunately, we have not seen any case law to clarify which position is correct.
The law is clearer for any of our readers that are planning on observing at polling places. According to R.C. 3505.21, anyone serving as an observer at a polling place may not carry a firearm.
Federal law also has to be considered. There is also no specific federal law which bans carrying at a polling place. However, federal imitation of voter laws may apply. 18 U.S.C. § 594 prohibits any person from intimidating, threatening, coercing, or attempting to do any of the above for the purpose of interfering with someone’s choice in candidates. These terms are very broad and an anti gun voter could attempt to claim that the mere presence of a gun is an attempt to intimate them. Our office would strongly disagree with this claim but a prosecutor could attempt to use this provision.
If anyone has any more questions on this topic please comment or submit a question through our Ohio Gun Lawyer YouTube channel.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice. Please consult with your attorney regarding any specific legal questions.