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Guns at the polls under watchful election eyes in Pennsylvania

by Anna Douglas | McClatchyDC.com  |  Published on November 8, 2016

WASHINGTON
Pennsylvania state elections officials say intimidating behavior – such as “ostentatious” carrying of weapons – should be reported and investigated, though voters may, under state law, carry guns to the polls Tuesday.

Pennsylvania, like all but six states in the country, permits legally carried firearms in polling places. Four of those states – Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina – ban concealed weapons but allow open-carry at the polls. Schools and courthouses are excepted.

Still, having a gun at the polls in Pennsylvania could become unlawful, if coupled with aggressive behavior or actions that intimidate voters, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees the state’s elections. The department recently handed down guidance to precinct supervisors. Intimidating actions listed include blocking entry to polling places, “ostentatious showing of weapons” and handing out false or misleading election information.

The guidance comes amid increased concerns of possible voter intimidation this year as several groups have mobilized volunteers to act as voter fraud protectors and to conduct amateur exit polls. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has galvanized supporters with repeated suggestions there will be widespread voter fraud and the election is rigged.

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