Election 2020 FAQ: Can I carry a firearm to my polling place?

2020 Election

Gun rights supporters walk by the Capitol building in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, July 9, 2019, the opening for the special session called by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Northam ordered lawmakers back for a special session to consider a wide range of gun-control measures, said people need “votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers” after a Virginia Beach employee shot and killed a dozen people in a city building on May 31. (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

QUESTION: In Virginia, can I carry a firearm to my polling place?

ANSWER: You cannot bring a firearm into certain polling places.

According to Chapter 11.2.2 of the Virginia Department of Elections’ Election Day Handbook, weapons are prohibited from the following polling places:

  • Public, private, or religious elementary, middle, or high schools — this extends to the building and grounds of these institutions
  • Courthouses
  • And any private property location used as a polling place with an owner-established policy restricting or prohibiting the presence of weapons

If the polling place is not one of those, then you can bring a firearm.

However, the VDE’s handbook says if a person with a weapon may be removed from a polling place “if they are acting in a way to intimidate, hinder or interfere with any qualified voter as to prevent them from casting a secret ballot, or are acting in a noisy or riotous manner.”

If a person in possession of a weapon or firearm is acting in violation of Virginia law, the officers of election may first order the person to stop. If the person does not stop, the officers of election, or a majority of them, may order the arrest of the individual by a law enforcement officer.

“The Handbook” July 2020 edition, Chapter 11, published by the Virginia Department of Elections

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