UNITED STATES NEWS

Bill to ban guns at polling places in New Mexico advances with concerns about intimidation

Jan 30, 2024, 4:04 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A Democratic-backed bill to ban firearms at polling places and near ballot drop boxes won the endorsement of New Mexico’s state Senate in response to concerns about intimidation and fears among poll workers in the runup to the 2024 election.

The bill now moves to the state House for consideration after winning Senate approval on a 26-16 vote, with all Republicans and one Democrat voting in opposition. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signaled her support in putting the bill on a limited agenda for a 30-day legislative session.

A dozen states including Florida, Georgia, Arizona and Georgia prohibit guns at voting locations, as legislators in several other states grapple with concerns about the intersection of voting and guns in a polarized political climate. As votes were tallied in the 2020 presidential election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, armed protesters carrying guns gathering nightly outside offices where workers were counting the votes to decide who won the White House.

“Given where we are as a country with elections, having guns (kept) out of polling places in my opinion — and I respect that there’s a difference of opinion on this — but I think it makes a lot of sense,” said Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth of Santa Fe, cosponsor of the bill to ban concealed and open carry of guns within 100 feet of the entrance of a polling place.

Republican senators in the legislative minority highlighted their opposition, proposing unsuccessful amendments to exempt rural counties or concealed gun permit holders from the gun ban at polling places. Colorado in 2022 banned the open carry of firearms — but not concealed weapons — at polls.

State Sen. Gregg Schmedes of Tijeras, a conservative stronghold with a strong culture of gun ownership, said the bill would “disproportionately disenfranchise” Republican gun owners that are “genuinely afraid of going into gun-free zones.”

Guns already are prohibited at New Mexico schools that often serve as Election Day voting sites, along with extensive Native American tribal lands. The bill would extend similar restrictions to variety of polling locations on election-day and during weekslong in-person voting, from storefront voting centers to houses of worship. Guns would be banned within 50 feet of drop boxes for absentee balloting during voting periods.

The proposed gun restrictions would be punishable as a petty misdemeanor by up to six months in a county jail, a $500 fine or both.

A similar bill won Senate approval in last year but stalled without a House floor vote. The new version provides exceptions and some leeway for people to leave guns in a personal vehicle while voting, and outside of shopping mall voting centers where people may be carrying a gun incidentally as they run other errands.

A 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling expanding gun rights in the so-called Bruen decision has upended firearms restrictions across the country as activists wage court battles over everything from bans on AR-15-style rifles to restrictions in so-called “sensitive” locations.

“Polling places are one of the lanes within the Bruen decision, where Justice Clarence Thomas clearly said there is a historical precedent for a state stepping in to regulate firearms,” Wirth said.

On the Senate floor, Wirth said the bill responds to political constituents working at polling places in 2022 who felt intimidated by people who brought in guns —- though without violations of criminal statutes against intimidation at polling places.

United States News

Associated Press

Texas police arrest suspect in abduction of 12-year-old girl who was found safe after 8 days

COLUMBUS, Texas (AP) — Police in Texas have arrested a man suspected in the disappearance of a girl who was missing for eight days before she was safely located. The 27-year-old Houston man was charged with evading authorities after he attempted to flee from officers on Friday, the Columbus Police Department said in social media […]

3 hours ago

FILE - A voting sign is seen near a voting center at Croft Baptist Church, Feb. 24, 2024, in Sparta...

Associated Press

A chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they wouldn’t vote for Trump as the GOP nominee

WASHINGTON (AP) — A small but substantial chunk of Republican primary and caucus voters say they would be so dissatisfied if Donald Trump became the party’s presidential nominee that they would not vote for him in November’s general election, according to AP VoteCast. An analysis of the data shows that many of those voters were […]

3 hours ago

Prison psychological specialist Christine Ransom, right, leads a group session for inmates, Dec. 14...

Associated Press

Prisoners with developmental disabilities face unique challenges. One facility is offering solutions

ALBION, Pa. (AP) — “You are the Lighthouse in someone’s storm,” reads the message above a mural of a sailboat bobbing on ocean waves under a cloud-studded azure sky. It’s an unexpected slogan for a prison wall. On a nearby door painted deep blue, a bright yellow Minion character offers “Ways to say hello,” lists […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., celebrates with his supporters af...

Associated Press

Iowa Democrats were forced to toss the caucus. They’ll quietly pick a 2024 nominee by mail instead

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There’s a lot less fanfare for Democrats in Iowa picking their presidential nominee this year, and it’s not only because Democratic incumbent Joe Biden is in the White House. Instead of congregating for caucuses, a one-night spectacle where community members publicly signal their support for a candidate, Iowa Democrats headed […]

9 hours ago

Kylie Moreland, the Monroe County Elections Supervisor poses in her office in Bloomington, Ind., Tu...

Associated Press

An Indiana county hires yet another election supervisor, hoping she’ll stay

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana county lost its top election official nearly every other month over the last year after a longtime supervisor resigned following a counting error in the November 2022 tally. Voting advocates hope fears of a rocky election year will ease now that Monroe County has named a supervisor who is […]

10 hours ago

Christiane Keyhani, program coordinator of Hui O Ka Wai Ola, fills up the bucket to test water qual...

Associated Press

In Hawaii, coral is the foundation of life. What happened to it after the Lahaina wildfire?

Abraham “Snake” Ah Hee rides waves when the surf’s up and dives for octopus and shells when the water is calm. The lifelong Lahaina, Hawaii, resident spends so much time in the ocean that his wife jokes he needs to wet his gills. But these days Ah Hee is worried the water fronting his Maui […]

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Bill to ban guns at polling places in New Mexico advances with concerns about intimidation