AG: Firearms prohibited at early voting locations
Attorney General Mark Herring has issued an official opinion concluding that early voting locations are considered “polling places,” which means firearms are prohibited at these locations.
Herring cited Virginia Code § 24.2-604(A)(iv) as the basis for the opinion, emphasizing that the prohibitions do not apply to the whole building where the polling place is, but only to the 40-foot boundary around the part of the building that houses the polling place.
“No Virginian should ever feel unsafe when they are voting whether they are voting in person on Election Day or whether they are voting in person early,” Herring said. “Last year, I made it a top priority to ensure safe, secure voting across the Commonwealth, and I intend to do the same during this year’s election cycle.”
Herring explains in his opinion: “[i]f the central absentee voter precincts, voter satellite offices, and offices of general registrars are designated locations for early voting in the locality, they are ‘polling places’ as defined in § 24.2-101…[I]t is my opinion that firearms are prohibited at central absentee voter precincts, voter satellite offices, and offices of general registrars where they are the designated locations for early voting in the locality, in the same way that firearms are prohibited at polling places when the polls are open on Election Day.”
Virginia Code § 24.2-604(A)(iv), according to Herring, “prohibits the knowing possession of a firearm ‘within 40 feet of any building, or part thereof, used as a polling place.’ For those polling places that are not located in school buildings where the possession of a firearm is already prohibited by § 18.2‑308.1(B), it is my opinion that the firearm prohibition in § 24.2-604(A)(iv) applies to the 40-foot boundary around the portion of the building being used as a polling place, including any entrances and exits, and not the entire building.”
“It is my opinion that locations such as central absentee voter precincts, voter satellite offices, and offices of general registrars that are used as the designated location for early voting are considered ‘polling places’ such that the prohibitions of § 24.2-604(A)(iv) apply,” Herring wrote. “Further, it is my opinion that the prohibitions of § 24.2-604(A)(iv) do not apply to the entire building that houses a polling place, but rather to the 40-foot boundary around the discrete portion of that building that is used as the polling place.”