The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

July 10, 2014

Election officials weigh in on state AG opinion

Guns at polling places

— Limestone County Elections Director Bobbi Bailey has had no complaints, so far, about asking gun-carrying voters not to bring their weapons into polling places now that the state’s open-carry law changed.

“To my knowledge, we had no one complain about it saying it infringed on their right to carry a gun,” Bailey said.

Most of Limestone’s polling places are on private property, like churches, so they can legally ban guns. Four polling places are at fire departments, which are county owned, and two polling places are at schools. However, those two schools should be off the list in November, Bailey said.

Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, who has been sheriff for 32 years, said he has never had a call about a voter with a gun at a polling place but he doesn’t know what the future holds.

“We’ve never had a problem like that, but we haven’t had that open-carry law we have now (in previous elections),” he said.

Deputies have been assigned to watch polling places in the past.

“In some of (the elections), we do staff polling places, and they call us if they have problems,” Blakely said. “We used to be required to keep someone at the armory, but that was one of their policies to use it for elections.”

Fear and voting in Alabama

Other counties have not been so lucky since the state’s open-carry law was changed last year.

Chambers County Commission recently sought to keep guns out of polling places but was told by the state’s attorney general they don't have the authority to prohibit firearms at polling places.

Chambers County commissioners sought the advice of Attorney General Luther Strange after a few people carrying exposed guns showed up at polling places in Chambers and Shelby counties during the primary election June 3.

The attorney general issued a seven-page advisory opinion Monday that says state law doesn't give the county commission the authority to ban weapons at polling places. But, it says state and federal laws that ban weapons in some public buildings, such as courthouses and schools, still apply when those venues are used as polling places. It also says churches and other private buildings used as polling places may prohibit guns, including those carried by people with permits to have concealed weapons.

With the July 15 runoff less than a week away, Bailey said she does not expect it to be a problem in Limestone. That may be because most of the polling places are private property, like churches, she said. Also, during the June 3 primary, she said signs were posted at polling places asking voters to please not bring weapons or telephones into polling places. The telephone ban is to ensure voter privacy. 

Text Only
Local News
Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee