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Marquette County officials respond to Secretary of State’s ban on openly carrying firearms November 3

Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt says his department will not enforce the ban.
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 3:08 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) -

UPDATE: (AP) - A judge has blocked a sudden ban on the open display of guns near Michigan polling places on Election Day. Judge Christopher Murray acted Tuesday, just a few hours after hearing a challenge from gun-rights groups.

They said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, had exceeded her authority in banning people from openly carrying guns within 100 feet of polling places.

Critics argued that Benson failed to go through a formal rule-making process as required under state law.

Attorney General Dana Nessel released a statement immediately following the ruling saying, “We intend to immediately appeal the judge’s decision as this issue is of significant public interest and importance to our election process.”

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On October 16, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced a ban on the open carry of firearms to the polls on Election Day. Local officials and law enforcement are responding to that direction, which they believe to be unconstitutional.

The ban prohibits voters from carrying firearms into polling locations, clerk’s offices, and absent voter counting boards on November 3. However, unless a court gives a clarifying ruling or legislation is made, Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese says Benson’s direction will not be enforced in the county.

“We don’t disagree with her intent, but we don’t believe that there’s legal authority to outright ban firearms at polling places because of a person’s Second Amendment Constitutional right to open carry,” Wiese explained.

Wiese says he consulted the Marquette County Clerk and County Sheriff Greg Zyburt before making that decision.

Zyburt says the Sheriff’s Department won’t enforce the Secretary of State’s direction. He adds although there won’t be police present at the polls, officers will respond to any complaint of voter intimidation.

“If you are open carry, you have that right. You can go in, you vote, and you leave,” Zyburt said. “You don’t stand there with a gun and try and influence someone’s vote--and that’s with a gun or without a gun.”

According to Wiese, voter intimidation is a five-year felony.

Zybert and Wiese both say although voters have the right to openly carry, the best way to prevent an issue is to avoid bringing guns into polling locations.

“I would advise people to not take firearms when they go to vote,” said Wiese. “We have a good law enforcement community here, we’ve always had safe voting free of intimidation, and I think that if people just leave their guns locked up and secured in your vehicle or at home, we shouldn’t have any problems.”

Wiese reminds voters if their polling location is a church or school, those facilities often have restricted open carry policies.

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