A Michigan man filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging the secretary of state’s ban on open-carry firearms from polling sites on election day.
Robert Davis, a labor activist and former Highland Park school board member, filed the lawsuit in the Michigan Court of Claims in Lansing, ABC News reported. Davis told ABC News that Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s firearm ban is “creating hysteria that simply is not there.”
“This secretary of state is driven by power,” Davis said according to the report. “It’s quite evident that this is the classic example of the most egregious government overreach that I’ve ever witnessed.” (RELATED: Michigan Rejects More Than 10,000 Absentee Ballots, Including Some From Voters Who Died)
Benson announced to local election officials last Friday that open-carry firearms could not be brought within 100 feet of polling places, clerk’s offices, and absent voter counting boards on Election Day. The Secretary of State said that the guidance is meant to “protect our voters from intimidation, threats, and harassment.”
Voter intimidation has no place in our state. Our vote is our voice, and it will be heard. https://t.co/VhyMJXPkQx
— ACLU of Michigan (@ACLUofMichigan) October 20, 2020
According to Benson, she consulted with Michigan State Attorney General Dana Nessel before issuing the guidance, ABC reported. Nessel reviewed all relevant laws and determined that Benson was allowed to issue the guidance.
“The presence of firearms at the polling place, clerk’s office(s), or absent voter counting board may cause disruption, fear or intimidation for voters, election workers and others present,” the directive reads.
“Of course, Michigan citizens have the right to bear arms and those with a license to carry a concealed weapon may continue to do so in places where that’s allowed,” Benson said, according to ABC News. “This is not a ban on firearms, this is an effort to protect our voters from intimidation, threats and harassment on Election Day.”
Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police director Robert Stevenson said that police agencies are “uncomfortable trying to enforce something they clearly don’t have the authority to enforce.”
“Our hope is that this will get resolved and there’ll be some clear guidance,” Stevenson told the Detroit Free Press. “But as it stands now, there’s nothing in the law that gives police the authority to enforce the Secretary of State’s edict.”
Davis said that the restriction on firearms will cause a reaction out of people by “putting that idea in people’s heads.”
“If you begin to put that idea in people’s heads, that causes a reaction out of people,” he said according to the report. “People carry concealed weapons all the time, every single day. So why is the secretary of state trying to violate the law by creating this hysteria that simply is not there?”
Judge Christopher Murray of the Court of Claims said Thursday that Benson has until 1:00 PM Monday to respond to Davis’ lawsuit. Davis then has until 5:00 PM Monday to respond to Benson’s response, Murray said according to the report.
In an emergency motion, Davis requested an expedited hearing. He said that he hopes the issue will be resolved before Election Day, ABC reported. A date for a hearing has not been set yet.