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Rep. White, James

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Attorney General Issues Opinion on the Ability of Election Judges to Carry a Firearm in a Polling Place  print page

by: Rep. White, James
09/05/2018

(Austin, TX) – Earlier this year, Southeast Texas election precinct judges inquired about their legal right to carry a firearm for protection if they are holders of a Texas License to Carry (LTC). Subsequently, State Representative James White filed a request for opinion (RQ) with Attorney General Ken Paxton regarding the ability to carry a firearm by presiding election judges in a polling place per the request of State Representative James White.

According to the opinion issued on August 27, 2018, Texas law already allows presiding election judges who have a LTC to carry their firearm under certain situations. Although Section 46.03 of the Penal Code prohibits the possession of a firearm “on the premises of a polling place on the day of the election or while early voting is in progress,” Texas law does provide exceptions. For example, Section 411.201 of the Government Code allows "an active judicial officer, who is licensed to carry a handgun” in prohibited places such as a courtroom or polling place. An active judicial officer is a district judge and the Texas Election Code gives presiding judges "the power of a district judge to enforce order and preserve the peace." Therefore, in statute and case law provides election judges this discretion in certain circumstances.

The Penal Code does prevent a presiding election judge from openly carrying a firearm in a polling location located in an institution of higher learning and from carrying a firearm (concealed and openly) from a location on campus where the institution prohibits carrying a handgun by rule (Subsections 46.035(a-1), (a-2), and (a-3)). Additionally, the presiding election judge would not be able to carry a handgun in a polling location on private property if proper notice is given under Texas Penal Code sections 30.03 and 30.07.

"I thank Attorney General Paxton and his staff at the Office of the Attorney General for looking into my request to clarify the law and affirming this discretion these law abiding Texans, serving as election judges, already possess," said Rep. White.

Please do not hesitate to contact either Saul Mendoza, Chief of Staff with questions regarding this release at 512-463-0490.

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