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Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson once again calls for firearms ban at polling locations

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Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced Thursday that she wants to see legislation to ban firearms within 100 feet of polling places.

“The time for only thoughts and prayers is over,” said Benson at the annual Judge Damon Keith Memorial Soul Food Luncheon.

Benson issued a similar directive to local clerks to ban the open carry of firearms at polling places in 2020. But a judge struck down that directive.

The plan now is to include the gun ban in legislation on voting rights that's being drafted.

“Our kids deserve to go to school free from fear of gun violence. They deserve to go to church or synagogues or mosques with their families to worship free from fear of gun violence," said Benson. "They deserve to live in a democracy where their voices are heard and where they can cast their ballots free from intimidation or threats of violence. That is the world I am fighting for."

Benson is collaborating with lawmakers and local election officials on the legislation.

"As a society, we should be able to feel safe in places of worship, grocery stores, schools, places we vote. And right now, people just don't feel safe," said state Representative Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing), Chair of the House Elections Committee.

Tsernoglou helped propose a voting rights bill package in 2022. Part of it attempted to ban the open carry of firearms at voting venues.

"Voting is a right and, I personally feel is at the core of our democracy," said Tsernoglou. "And for anyone to feel unsafe while doing so, is something that we absolutely need to change."

Priya Vijayakumar started her Newsroom Internship in January 2023. She is interested in science/health reporting and making the facts more accessible to all!
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