Ahead Of Midterms, Feinstein, Murphy, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Keep Voters and Election Workers Safe from Guns at Polls
Sep 28 2022
Washington–Ahead of the upcoming election and early voting period, Senator Dianne feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and a group of their colleagues to introduce the Vote Without Fear Act, legislation to prevent armed voter intimidation at the polls. The legislation would prohibit the possession of a firearm within 100 yards of any federal election site, with exceptions for on-duty law enforcement or security guards. Only six states – Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas – and the District of Columbia currently ban guns at the polls while instances of private citizens bringing guns to polling places as well as threats against election workers are both on the rise.
Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also co-sponsored the legislation.
“Voters should be able to cast their ballots free of fear or intimidation from someone brandishing a gun. Our bill protects public safety and the integrity of our elections by keeping firearms away from our polling places,” said Feinstein.
“At the foundation of American democracy is the right to make your voice heard. Free and fair elections cannot happen occur in the face of armed intimidation at the polls, but that’s become a disturbing reality for some Americans, as extremists driven by conspiracy theories about voter fraud are increasingly showing up to polling places with guns. This legislation will ensure voters and election workers continue to feel safe participating in the democratic process,” said Murphy.
“Armed voter intimidation poses a serious threat not only to public safety, but to our democracy. These incidents of violent extremism are on the rise and are only anticipated to worsen as we enter the election season. Every American should be able to safely cast their vote in the absence of fear. I am proud to support this commonsense legislation and thank my colleague, Senator Murphy, for leading the charge,” said Blumenthal.
“The ballot box is our democracy’s first line of defense and the last place an American should ever have to worry for their safety or feel intimidated,” said Markey. “I am proud to join my colleague Senator Murphy in introducing the Vote Without Fear Act as we continue our shared fight to end the gun violence epidemic.”
“Voters should be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation and poll workers should be able to feel safe while fulfilling their important roles,” said Shaheen. “This legislation is an important step toward making sure all citizens feel secure at their polling place on election day."
"Every American should be able to vote without the threat of violence that comes with the brandishing of a weapon. Guns have no business at polling places in a fair and just democracy. We thank Senator Murphy for his commitment to upholding public safety and allowing voters to exercise their constitutional rights without the fear of being shot,” said Adzi Vokhiwa, Federal Affairs Director, Giffords.
“Armed intimidation at election sites disenfranchises voters and suppresses votes. Newtown Action Alliance is proud to support a legislation that will promote safe and free elections for all American voters,” said Po Murray, Chairwoman of Newtown Action Alliance.
“The right to cast a ballot safely and free from intimidation is fundamental to our democracy,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). “This bill is welcomed, as we continue to track potential threats of violence targeting the upcoming midterm election. We thank Senator Murphy for his leadership on this issue and urge the Senate to move swiftly to pass this crucial legislation.”
"No one should ever feel threatened while exercising their right to vote, but the presence of a firearm at the polls creates fear and intimidation — whether intended or not. This type of voter suppression is a grave threat to our democracy and as we’ve seen increases in armed intimidation across the country, taking preventative action is more important than ever. Brady thanks Senator Murphy for championing this common-sense policy that will protect the constitutional right to freely participate in our nation’s elections,” said Brady President Kris Brown.
“Armed intimidation at the polls is a Jim Crow-style voter suppression tactic, and we must not tolerate it. We thank Senator Murphy for introducing the Vote Without Fear Act, which will protect voters — and our democracy — from violent extremists,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.
“The name of this legislation speaks for itself. No American should have to fear gun violence when exercising their right to vote. Our civic prerogatives should not be tainted by the threat of bullets, and we applaud Senator Murphy for introducing this commonsense safety measure,” said Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president, Public Citizen
Full text of the bill is available here.