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Local sheriffs speak on Benson’s open-carry ban at the polls

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says she’ll send state troopers to the polls to enforce it if local sheriffs won’t.

Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy says that the Secretary of State cannot create a rule banning guns at polling locations.

He told me he won’t follow the policy she announced Friday because there’s no law banning open carry in the state of Michigan.

“You can’t do that unless there’s a specific statute that says that,” said Murphy.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson says the ban would help voters feel more comfortable at the polls on Election Day. But, Sheriff Murphy tells News 10 that there’s a difference between open carry and voter intimidation.

“If you have someone that’s open carrying at the poll, and they’re touting ‘you better vote for candidate x or else,’ that’s a whole different ball game. That’s not open carrying. But, if someone chooses to open carry, they go in, get their ballot, and fill in the bubbles and leave. There’s nothing illegal about that,” he said.

With that being said, Murphy thinks just because you can openly carry a firearm at the polls doesn’t mean you should.

“I know that people want to exercise their rights. I get it. I’m a constitutional guy, but I don’t get what good comes out of open carrying at a poll, quite frankly,” he said.

He plans to have more deputies at polls to make sure everyone feels safe even if he won’t order them to enforce the Secretary of State’s policy.

“I do understand the logic of what she was trying to do because tensions are high. There’s nobody in the world that doesn’t want a safe, secure election,” he said.

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth shared his thoughts too.

He told News 10 that he’ll also have extra patrols out during the election on November 3.

Sheriff Murphy says if voters are still nervous and still feel intimidated at the polls, they are encouraged to vote absentee.

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