Have Gun, No Vote

The right to vote is an aspect of American life we all take for granted. We expect to be able to show up at our polling place every other fall and cast our ballot for the candidates we believe will best represent us in our local government, in the state legislature, or in Washington, DC. That is, unless you are a uniformed police officer attempting to exercise your right to vote at a voting precinct in Bangor, Maine supervised by an idiot. 

James Dearing, a Bangor, Maine police officer, showed up two weeks ago – in his regular uniform — to cast an in-person absentee ballot at Bangor Civic Center; the only early voting location in the city.  He had voted many times in the past with no problem. 

Upon entering the polling place, however, Dearing was confronted by Wayne Mallar, the election warden, and told to surrender his weapon to another officer before he would be permitted to vote. Dearing declined, and was not allowed to cast his ballot. 

On-duty police officers had been voting for years without incident. Despite this, the reasoning for Mallar’s request, according to a letter written by Dearing to Maine’s Secretary of State, was that the presence of a firearm “may influence other voters.”  Mallar explained also he was concerned for the “safety” of other voters.

Every campaign cycle we read stories about voters being asked to leave polling places after showing up wearing campaign propaganda. There was even an instance a few weeks ago where First Lady Michelle Obama openly campaigned at a Chicago polling place during early voting; well within the 100 foot limit, although no poll workers said anything to her. But the incident in Bangor appears to be a first – a uniformed police officer denied the right to vote simply because he was carrying a gun; something he is required to do while on duty. 

To his credit, Officer Dearing declined to make an issue over the incident at the polling place, but did raise it thereafter.  And, to their credit, polling officials more knowledgeable and intelligent than Mallar declared that Dearing certainly would be permitted to vote, in or out of uniform and whether carrying his sidearm or not.  Importantly, they relieved Mallar of his duties as a polling warden, at least for last Tuesday’s election. 

While this incident was resolved properly, it raises serious questions about the power permitted to be wielded by petty officials, who are neither knowledgeable of the law nor sufficiently versed in common sense to understand that a police officer is supposed to carry a firearm.

59 comments Add your comment

Aquagirl

November 10th, 2010
6:49 am

Everyone agreed the polling official was an idiot, and he was booted from his job. The end. Is this a contractual obligation column, Bob?

Duh

November 10th, 2010
7:35 am

Aquagirl, Bitter Betty party of one, your table is ready.

Aquagirl

November 10th, 2010
7:45 am

I’m bitter ’cause I can’t get paid to churn out stuff like this.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

November 10th, 2010
7:50 am

Great essay, Mr. Barr, revealing the level of lunacy within the anti-gun crowd. Should be exposed every time it rears its ugly head.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Barr, Brian Wright. Brian Wright said: RT @bobbarr: Barr Code: Have Gun, No Vote http://bit.ly/aQjEF4 [...]

Borat

November 10th, 2010
8:41 am

Mr. Barr … you are the perfect person to be pointing out the Peter Principle of people with authority.

Equal Justice Under the Law

November 10th, 2010
9:07 am

On a positive note, at least the election official was applying their stupid rule equally to all, realizing that LEOs are not above the law.

nelson

November 10th, 2010
9:08 am

The election warden would not have said that to “Dirty Harry”, and his 357 magnum, the most powerful hand gun in the world. Nobody, but nobody, takes Dirty Harry’s weapon. It is unconsionable to ask an officer of the law to surrender his gun, that is his symbol of total authority.
It was just last night when I was sitting in Dunkin Donuts and a State Trooper came in for a coffee and donut, now, I did not see him paying for it. I did not pay either and I was unarmed.

All of that being said, the more guns the more crime.

Stu Strickler

November 10th, 2010
9:40 am

This election official was an idiot! Nelson, “Dirty Harry” did not carry a .357, he carried a .44. Not that it makes any difference, but when will stupid people get over the fact that we carry firearms for personal protection. There are over 6,000,000 of us and it grows everyday.
I commend this Police Officer for having the guts to stand up to an idiot!

paleo-neo-Carlinist

November 10th, 2010
11:04 am

Ragnar, funny thing is, I think it demonstrates the lunacy of the ‘right to vote’. in fact, if I had to decide, I’d keep my gun and let others vote.

jc

November 10th, 2010
11:08 am

more guns, less crime. law-abiding citizens, who go through the proper channels to acquire a CWP, do not commit crimes. they deter crimes. you won’t see near as many people trying to rob businesses, people, homes if they know someone on the other end may be armed.

get out much?

November 10th, 2010
11:15 am

Left out of the article is whether or not the election warden was a paid employee or a volunteer. If (as I suspect) Mr. Mallar was a volunteer, then the obvious solution is to have paid professionals at all polling locations.

Mike Spangenberg

November 10th, 2010
11:18 am

The writing is pretty good. . . . . But the point is why do we constantly allow others to get away with things that are, by common sense, wrong? Why do we stand by and allow that warden to do as he did? Why do we allow Obama to tear up the country with his radical ideas? Why do we allow the politicians to continue to do as they please? We have been fighting for our freedom a lot longer than you’ll ever know if you think about it. The Election Warden is only the very tiny tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The American people need to start standing up for what’s right at the time of the indiscretion, and not wait for others to do something about it for them. The law could interpret many crimes into that wardens actions. Thank the cop for not causing a scene. But maybe he should have? ? ? ?

zoomie

November 10th, 2010
11:46 am

While, a policeman on duty is generally required to be armed. Why not simply arrest the election warden for dening a police officer the right to enter a public place, or illegally interfearing with a voter. technically the election warden violated election laws.

Kling

November 10th, 2010
11:46 am

So much for “ballots, not bullets”. And just what would happen if a recount was called and the spent casings were dimpled chads? I’ll tell you what: every polling place would be turned into a shotgun wedding, that’s what. (or the saint valentines day massacre) or the battle of shiloh.

But none of you morons realized that yourselves. No, you have to parrot everything you hear on Oprah, Real Housewipes, and Jerry Springer.

My search for thinkers goes on………

SPSU

November 10th, 2010
11:49 am

Aqua, are you serious???? The poll worker was fired & you call this the end of the story.

Bush is no longer on the jog but you libtards keep bringing him up. You can’t have it both ways sugar.

Steve

November 10th, 2010
11:51 am

Sounds like another petty bureaucrat.

Greg

November 10th, 2010
12:04 pm

Any chance you could have an opinion on a current story.

Greenman

November 10th, 2010
12:06 pm

Whether it was a uniformed officer of the law, an officer not in uniform, or a regular citizen – WHO CARES IF HE HAD A GUN. He wasn’t pointing it at someone and saying “Ya’ll best to be voting for Bobbie now right?” No. He had the thing holstered.

If someone’s so put off by the presence of a gun in an area, then that someone ought to stay home because there’s probably other people with concealed weapons.

The Election Warden was and is a moron. Glad he got fired. But I’d have made a scene right then and there – “Oh, I can’t vote even though I’m a registered voter who hasn’t already voted in this election? Screw you. Get your boss down here right now. I’m not going anywhere until I cast my ballot.”

Sunlight is the best disinfectant – glad to hear about this story Bob. Interestingly enough, we haven’t heard of the Obama incident here in Chicago – looks like the local news media sanitized things…

CDog

November 10th, 2010
12:14 pm

If the officer had refused to leave the polling place without voting, what would they have done? Called the police to remove the officer? Would those cops have had to surrender their guns before entering the polling place to remove him?

retiredds

November 10th, 2010
12:22 pm

Bobby boy, if this had been about anything else than guns, the mistake made by the polling warden which appears to have been reasonably and quickly resolved (without you or the NRA having to step in), it would be a non-issue. Bob I continue to believe that you are a little too paranoid, like your boss Wayne LaPierre, about the gun issue here in the good old Christian (turn your swords into plowshares) US of A. I am as sure of this as is the NRA’s continuing belief, using its time-worn 30-year campaign to raise $$$$, that the government is going to take away your guns.

JCD153

November 10th, 2010
12:27 pm

CDog, good point…lol. It is mentioned by others but bears repeating. All too often people make decisions based on their personal opinions rather than facts, laws, common sense…etc. I am glad to see that this “warden” was relieved and I hope others were then trained on what NOT to do. I commend the officer for handling it so well. I probably would have made a scene and had him get the responsible official right then and there.

Jeff

November 10th, 2010
1:20 pm

Just a correction, voting is not a right guaranteed or protected by the Constitution. Knowing Mr. Barr, I am surprised he started the column with “the right to vote”, no such thing. I hope Mr. Barr has not fallen to the standards that published and paid him for this piece.

explorer3181

November 10th, 2010
1:23 pm

I believe anyone with a CCW permit or an officer should be able to carry, now to Rqual Justice under the law, saying that LEO’s arent above the law thats true, they arent, and you SHOULD remember IT BECAME FEDERAL LAW (that means nationwide) that certified active duty and retired officers can carry a concealed handgun in all 50 states, National Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act. So they arent being above the law, its federal law. Before speaking read it. So basicly that polling place official tried to Violate Federal Law.

So he was not applying his rule equal, as a federal law has been passed and signed by president bush on this matter. End of story on that, the law is the law and the constitutions are the constitutions. But again I think not only should LEO’s be permited to carry ccw also ccw permit holders to. it makes our country safer against criminals and terrorists to have police and lawful citizens armed. Hence what has been proved time and time again more guns less crime, and thats from the FBI and others.

explorer3181

November 10th, 2010
1:28 pm

In most places it is a right to vote if you are eligible to vote by law. It would be like a person telling you do you carry a cell phone? You say yes, and they say well you cant vote. The problem is people like that are trying anything they can to win the elections they want. But lucky for us they lost this one. I guess the tricks they tried to pull didnt pan out this time.. As for the NRA they train police,m military, security, and citizens, even some training is provided free of charge, find one of those anti gun (anti self defense groups) who provides any training. http://www.nranews.com

mmm, mmm, mmm, Barack the LIAR Obama, BEND OVER, here comes the CHANGE!

November 10th, 2010
1:32 pm

A total idiot was in charge. We trust the offer to use his weapon, but not while voting?

Jefferson

November 10th, 2010
1:33 pm

I consider the US house of reps “petty” officials. Ever see them in action?

carlosgvv

November 10th, 2010
1:42 pm

A poling offical thinking an armed police officer might influence other voters and might be a safety hazard just goes to show how far paranonia has spread in American politics. You may be sure this situation will not get any better anytime soon.

[...] the only early voting location in the city. He had voted many times in the past with no problem. READ MORE __________________ MAINE CWP TRAINING Did you find this post helpful? [...]

John

November 10th, 2010
3:46 pm

I voted for you once Bob. I don’t think I’m going to any more. This isn’t news. The “system” worked EXACTLY as it should. People in authority that abuse or misuse it, are removed from that station. There’s nothing to call out in this story unless you’re pleased that the system worked.

…There’s nothing to see here people, move along…

Wally

November 10th, 2010
5:10 pm

It all ended well anyway,well… actually it all ended superfreaking great.Maine has been on a downward spiral since 1962 when the Democrats took over for almost 50 years and that all ended tuesday night when Maine citizens fired the Democrat Party and Rehired the Republican Party… Governor , Senate , and Legislature .
We shouldn’t see anymore idiot election wardens for a while .

Wally

November 10th, 2010
5:17 pm

@ john

Move along sonny …… This is for grownups

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

November 10th, 2010
6:01 pm

Well, I hope Barr stands up for me when I bring the anti-tank weapon and the two machine guns I use for hunting and self-defense to the polling place next time. And I got a Liscence to Carry!

Dave Shutz

November 10th, 2010
6:01 pm

“Fewer guns, less crime” as an argument for disarming the police is about as absurd as one can get. Who outside of an asylum would expect that measure to either:

1. Move violent offenders to disarm in a sense of fairness, or

2. Improve the ability of the police to control them.

Fact is, the instances of criminal use of guns by citizens with carry permits or police officers are few and very far between, but the instances of unarmed civilians being victimized by felons who defy the law by possessing a gun (under federal law, NO felon may possess any gun) are plentiful.

The “thinking” applied by the poll worker resembles that of a school teacher who would suspend the honor student because the class jerk fails to do his homework; same ILLogic, but an empty and counterproductive measure.

Although perhaps, in the poll worker’s defense, he was afraid the officer would use his service weapon to dispose of some hanging chads.

Ron Strand

November 10th, 2010
7:56 pm

What everyone seems to forget is the Officer was ultimately unable to vote. He removed himself without causing a scene and WITHOUT VOTING, unless he was able to vote later. This is a man who puts his life on the line to help others and is not afforded the simple right to vote. That is just plain wrong.

SFC Jimmy W. Simmons, US Army, Retired

November 10th, 2010
8:34 pm

$100 says that Wayne Mallar, the election warden, is a Democrat and an Obama supporter. I guess if he wanted to have a weapon at the polling place, he should have dressed as a Black Panther!

Sam

November 10th, 2010
8:53 pm

We seem to be a nation of idiots! A “Black Panther” can stand outside a polling place and intimidate people yet a uniformed officer cannot vote while he is in possession of his service weapon.

humblesubject

November 10th, 2010
9:49 pm

The very same thing happened here in northeast Ct. a few years ago, to a state policeman that lives here.
Although I had always suspected that the election official was stupid, I never really expected her to prove it in this manner.
A big part of the problem stems from the fact that most of our citizens have no clue as to what the law actually says. In Ct. If you apply for and are issued a Pistol Permit it is specifically for “Carrying Pistols and Revolvers”, there is no requirement to carry concealed, although most that carry do carry concealed.
So as time goes by people start to believe that you must carry concealed and if a person sees a gun being carried they start to freak out.
It would be the same as someone freaking out because they saw a democrat campaigning. The right exists and when practiced sit should be respected, regardless of opinion.
Law enforcement officers are covered by seperate laws, as has been posted.

[...] when a far leftie gets a little power. At least this one ended well, but shows the danger. Have Gun, No Vote | The Barr Code We have one in the White House. Lets hope it ends as [...]

Eric

November 11th, 2010
1:32 am

Enter your comments here

Eric

November 11th, 2010
1:40 am

Jeff, are you serious? No constitutionally protected right to vote? Look up the 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th Amendments.

Simple Is...

November 11th, 2010
2:23 am

paleo-neo-Carlinist Problem with not voting is that you wouldn’t be able to carry.
If you leave it to the libatards we will all be marching lockstep!
Aquagirl appears to be a little crankie! What’s the matter hon, not enough talent to get your own column?

Kyle Williams

November 11th, 2010
6:33 am

Seriously Nelson. Are you trying to say that if there are more police officers out there with guns, there will be more crime? Or are you trying to imply that if there are more law abiding citizens who exercise their second amendment right to keep and bear arms, there will be more crime? Perhaps the more legitimate argument would be that if more criminals that have illegal guns there will be more crime.

Kyle Williams

Bob Johnson

November 11th, 2010
7:26 am

I live in Maine. Have all my life. I also have CWP’s that allow me to carry in thirty two of these great United States. On behalf of all Mainers, please except my personal apology for the idiocy of this so called polling official. It certainly does go to show what lengths these anti-gun idiots will go to to push their twisted, lying agenda.

patrick

November 11th, 2010
7:27 am

I think it just shameful.One of our local hero’s,a person how see’s people at their worst could not vote.This MUST NEVER BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN.They should fire that idiot over this.

Kling

November 11th, 2010
8:23 am

Have gun. no vote?

Have pun. will drivel.

Stomper

November 11th, 2010
9:43 am

Maybe the policeman should have slapped the “poll warden” in cuffs, sat him in back of the cruiser, gone in and got his ballot and voted, then give Mr. “poll warden” a ride downtown and let him experience the booking process for “attempted voter intimidation”, then let him enjoy a 12-person “tank” for the evening with 11 other “upstanding citizens” (or are they?) who just got done eating chili fed to them by the jail-kitchen, with one toilet seperated by a 3-ft. tall cinderblock wall and no door… or exhaust fan.

Why do stupid people survive long enough to become adluts?

stephen

November 11th, 2010
10:15 am

Mr Barr you should have mentioned it is legal for anyone to vote while armed in Maine….

rachej

November 11th, 2010
10:38 am

I was so glad to read that the warden of the polls was fired- hey, ignorance can be fixed, let’s hope this voting precint never lets this guy work/volunteer again. I was sad to read about how a police officer couldn’t vote. I can’t imagine his feelings of outrage, and am glad he had the wherewithal to not make a scene. Although, I like what Stomper had to say- the officer should have taken the poll warden in cuffs and taken him for a ride downtown. Sometimes people get giddy with whatever power they are given…

http://www.paragonfinancial.net/factoring-states/?s=Georgia

william mcniff

November 11th, 2010
11:01 am

Retired DDS, Why are you hiding behind this nickname? Use your name so that we all know who is making a fool of himself. The unalienable right to bear arms is codified in our Constitution. I am thankful that the National Rifle Association protects this right for us all.