- Jul 23, 2008
- Roanoke, Virginia, USA
A few weeks ago, Attorney General Mark Herring issued Opinion 20-046, which addresses "conduct at polling places that intimidates or harasses voters". It never actually states any definite conclusion, but suggests that open carry at the polls might be illegal.
Opinion 20-046 said:[T]here have been reports of activity near polling places that led some voters to fear for their safety while waiting to cast their vote, or led them to believe that they would be harmed for supporting a particular candidate.
Both state and local law protect citizens from violent threats and in particular from being threatened with firearms. It is a criminal offense in Virginia "to point, hold or brandish any firearm or any air or gas operated weapon or any object similar in appearance, whether capable of being fired or not, in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another or hold a firearm or any air or gas operated weapon in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured."
Accordingly, it is my opinion that [this conduct] could violate state and/or federal law if it threatens or intimidates voters casting their ballots at polling places.