With 18 days until Election Day, officials all over the country are starting to think about the presence of guns at polling places — something that hasn’t really been an issue in recent history, according to reports.
But with claims of voter fraud, and ramped up gun rhetoric, election officials are taking note, and some are offering up policies, and even training for Election Day violence.
“We’ve never seen this level of concern, this far out from Election Day — poll workers in states across the country being trained to deal with guns,” Erika Soto Lamb, a spokeswoman for Everytown for Gun Safety, told The Washington Post.
In Colorado, a state that’s no stranger to mass shootings, poll workers are being trained on what to do in the event of an active shooter.
“The rhetoric has been a little raised from other years,” said Matt Crane, the county clerk in Arapahoe County. “I just think in today’s day and age, it’s better to send your people out as prepared as possible, as opposed to waiting for something to happen, and then you train them.”
In New Hampshire, it’s legal for voters to bring guns to the polls, even if they’re in schools. In Durham, New Hampshire, Town Administrator Todd Selig says he doesn’t expect any problems.
“Despite a national environment of highly charged negative partisan politics, I have every expectation that Durham citizens will exhibit respect and cordiality toward one another at the polls regardless of their political perspectives,” he said.
In Pennsylvania, the Department of State issued a “guidance on voter intimidation and discriminatory conduct” memo to county election offices. The memo didn’t include any new rules, but it did highlight areas of concern.
Speaking at a rally in Altoona, Pennsylvania a couple months ago, Republican nominee Donald Trump told supporters to camp out at polling places and make sure voters didn’t vote more than once.
“Go down to certain areas and watch and study make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times,” Trump said.
In Pennsylvania, like New Hampshire, voters will be allowed to bring their guns to the polls. What officials worry about is a state law that says police must remain 100 feet or more from a polling place. A State Department official says “something that’s meant to be intimidating” would be grounds for involving police.
Officials in Louisiana say they aren’t training election officials for active shooter scenarios, and they don’t anticipate any violence on Election Day.
“We’re not a swing state,” said Meg Caspar, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana secretary of state’s office.