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


November 11th, 2010
11:10 am

If you search hard enough, you can always find a story to make a point. The polling place official was in the wrong. Rather than cause a scene there, the officer left and did what he should do to see that the mistake was not made again. And, he voted.

Barr can whine all he wants. There are no perfect people. The guy who made the mistake could be a card carrying member of the NRA who simply didn’t know the rules, for all Barr knows or any else commenting here.

Geez – sometimes a mistake is just a mistake.

Jerry A. Mullen

November 11th, 2010
12:02 pm

This sounds like the same mindset as exists on our school board. A few years ago they banned anything looking like a “weapon” from school, even things that were props for school plays! I don’t know how you put on Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Mikado”, if the Lord High executioner can’t have a wooden samurie sword. It’s called education by fear and ignorance. And they did this without two weeks public notice and without public hearings, thus violating at least two Vermont statutes! Their excuse was that it was required by Federal law, tho’ Pat Leahy told me that that law was tossed out by the Supreme Court years ago. These folks learn everything about firearms from watching Law and Order. Remember, the police who INVESTIGATE crimes and the DA’s who PROSECUTE the offenders. Up here in the Republic of Vermont, my wife and I have had several occassions in the past 60 years when we’ve STOPPED the would-be offenders. Never had to shoot any of ‘em. The show of armed resistance has always been enough. But folks who’ve been “educated” to fear weapons are sometimes hard to cure.

Sam Mosin

November 11th, 2010
12:46 pm

“…the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed…”

It doesn’t matter that it was a police officer. All these f-ing idiots trying to disarm citizens at polling places, courthouses, city halls and anywhere else need to be charged with violating the constitutional rights of their fellow citizens and barred from any further public disservice.

Navy Flyer

November 11th, 2010
6:31 pm

The IDIOTS in this story are those leaving comments about why this story is news or why it is being reported in this blog. WHAT IDIOTS! Bob is passing on a very salient story that was not reported here on the LEFT COAST in the Land of the Fruits, Nuts, and Flakes, and something that lawful gun owners and shall-issue concealed carry permittees should know about. YOU IDIOTS finding fault with Bob’s reporting need to find something more important to do with your time … you and Nancy Pelosi, both.


November 12th, 2010
6:39 am

Does anyone know a good gunsmith? If Nelson is right that having more guns means more crime, then mine must be broken. They shoot ok but they’ve never committed any crimes in the entire time I’ve owned them.


November 12th, 2010
11:23 am

nelson: You are showing your ignorance. First, the 357 Mag is not the most powerful handgun on earth. Secondly & more importantly, your statement; “the more guns the more crime” is even more ignorant. I strongly suggest you start reading “The armed Citizen”!

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November 13th, 2010
8:33 am

As for the election warden concerned about others “safety’”–was the officer drunk and waving the gun around? No. argument shot down. Officer 1-Warden 0. The warden was also concerned the presence of a gun “might influence other voters”. To do what? Get a carry license, become a police officer? If I was in a polling place and saw this it would have no consequense at all. Officer 2–Warden 0. This warden was and is an idiot.

gene Alaska

November 15th, 2010
9:30 pm

Well I voted with 2 guns on me and no permit. But I live in one of 2 states that truly follow the Constitution. Alaska and Vermont. All gun control laws are a direct violation of the Constitution. The sheeple allow there governments to pass unconstitutional laws then cry when some lowlife murders and rapes there family. Most Policemen are required to always carry a gun. He should have just arrested the idiot for not allowing him to vote.