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Voter Intimidation and Armed “Poll Watchers”

Despite the impression that you may get from the news and social media, private and unauthorized armed militias are generally illegal.  This has become an unfortunately relevant topic of late, as armed supporters of the President of the United States have interpreted his call for “poll watchers” as license to arm themselves and appear at polling places around the country.  There are, of course, laws on the books that prevent voter intimidation, many of which address this issue.

Georgetown University Law School’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection has created a convenient state-by-state guide for how to deal with the presence of armed groups at your polling place.  If you are concerned about behavior that may be illegal at your polling place, this is a great reference for you to keep handy on election day.  Voter intimidation laws are there to allow us to exercise our rights to the franchise without any fear whatsoever.  Use them to your advantage.

If you are an Illinois voter, neither the Second Amendment, nor anything the Illinois State constitution protect private militias. In Illinois, it is patently illegal for “any body of men or women, other than the regularly organized militia of the State,” to associate themselves together as a military company or organization, to drill or parade with arms in this State.” 20 Ill. Comp. Stat. 1805/94, /95

If anyone interferes with your access to the polling place or the privacy of your ballot, check the Illinois fact sheet for information on how to properly report it.

Estate planning may be the focus of my practice, but I always endeavor to use my platform to provide helpful legal information across the spectrum of issues.

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