Polling Places

10/20/2020

Alternative Text

Our organization does not run elections and cannot provide legal advice. If you are a voter looking for assistance, please contact your local election official. You can find your local election official's website and contact information by using this database from the US Vote Foundation.

Overview

More than 230,000 polling places were used in the 2018 general election, according to the 2018 Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS) report released by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The EAC also reported that less than 1% of those locations were election offices—the vast majority of polling places were at other sites, such as schools or churches.

State laws govern where polling places can be located, and some states are more directive than others. In Arizona’s presidential preference primaries, for example, the number of polling places is based on the number of active registered voters in a county. In contrast, some states, such as Florida and Minnesota, simply require one polling place per precinct. Forty-eight states and one territory require local officials to designate polling locations. American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island and South Carolina require state-level involvement.

In the sections below you will find information on:

  • Polling place locations, including statutory requirements and restrictions,
  • Consolidated polling places and vote centers,
  • The Election Day hours of polling places,
  • Who establishes polling places and when,
  • Restrictions on guns and other weapons in polling places and
  • The role of law enforcement in polling places.

Polling Place Locations

Public Buildings: In general, using public buildings is optimal because they meet the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements and may be more familiar to voters. Thirty-four states specifically mandate using public buildings as polling locations when practicable, though that designation may or may not include schools.

K-12 Schools: Although K-12 schools may be considered public buildings, there has been a slow trend away from using schools while children are in class due to safety concerns. Twenty states specifically mention using schools as polling locations. Four states—Delaware, Montana, Rhode Island and Tennessee—require that schools be closed when used as polling places. Four other states—California, Illinois, New Mexico and North Dakota—encourage schools to be closed, and three states—Arizona, Georgia and New Jersey—say that when schools are used as polling places, elections cannot interfere with normal school functions. Other precautions when schools are used as polling places include implementing special security protocols. In 2017, Texas began requiring each school district to create a security policy for school buildings selected as polling places.

College or University Campuses: Five states—California, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota and Wyoming—require or encourage polling places to be located on university or college campuses, even during mostly mail elections. 

Fire Stations: Four states specifically encourage using fire stations as polling places, though many firehouses may be considered public buildings and therefore can be used in other states as well.

Churches: Three states—Delaware, North Carolina and Oklahoma—specifically mention churches as polling locations, but none require that churches be made available.

Senior Living Facilities: Senior communities or residences are often used, and Michigan, Nevada and Rhode Island specifically mention this option in statute. As with schools, there may be safety concerns with using these residential spaces.

Thirteen states do not specify polling place locations or impose restrictions, and in Montana, “any building may be used as a polling place.” In these states, local election officials can be particularly creative with the locations they use.

Some states also have restrictions about polling place locations. Nine states—California, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania—specifically prohibit polling places in proximity to alcohol-selling establishments. Delaware disallows the use of private residences for polling places, and several other states prohibit the use of a candidate or elected official's private residence.

State

Public Buildings Required or Encouraged

Schools Required, Encouraged or Restricted

Other Allowed or Encouraged Locations

Other Restricted Locations

Alabama

Elections must be held in the courthouse unless another place is designated. Whether that place must be public is not specified.

 

Ala. Code §17-6-4

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Alaska

 

Alaska Stat. § 15.15.090

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Arizona

 

A.R.S. § 16-248

Not specified.

Public schools are required to provide sufficient space for use as a polling place when requested by the officer in charge of elections. Schools may refuse if the safety of the children would be at risk.

 

A.R.S. § 16-411

Not specified.

Not specified.

Arkansas

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

California

 

Cal. Elec. Code  § 12280-12288

Public buildings are required to be available for use if requested to serve as polling places.

 

Cal Elec Code § 12283

School buildings are required to be available for use if requested to serve as polling places. The University of California is encouraged—not required—to comply.

 

Cal Elec Code § 12283

Tax exempt property and state-owned buildings must be made available for free. Mobile homes can be used.

 

Cal Elec Code § 12282

Cal Elec Code § 12284-5

 

 

Polling places prohibited at a candidate’s residence, a sex offender’s residence, and in establishments that sell or dispense alcohol.

 

Cal Elec Code § 12287-8

Colorado

 

C.R.S. 1-5-101-108

Public locations should be used whenever possible.

 

C.R.S. 1-5-105

K-12 schools not specified. Required to place a voting location on a higher education campus during a general election.

 

C.R.S. 1-5-102.9

Other locations may be used only when public locations are not available.

 

C.R.S. 1-5-105

Prohibited in rooms in which any intoxicating malt, spirituous, or vinous liquors are being served.

 

C.R.S. 1-5-105

 

Connecticut

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Delaware

Public locations should be used whenever possible, including e suitable government buildings, schools, firehouses, community buildings, churches, financial institutions, lobbies or other gathering places at least 350 square feet in size or apartment buildings or complexes consisting of 50 or more units or other such similar structures.

 

15 Del. C. § 4512

Public buildings, including schools, should be used whenever possible.

 

15 Del. C. § 4512

 

Private businesses may be used if no public locations are available.

 

15 Del. C. § 4512

 

Private residences prohibited.

 

15 Del. C. § 4512

 

District of Columbia

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Florida

Public, tax-supported buildings should be made available for polling places.

 

Fla. Stat. § 101.71

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Georgia

Whenever possible,

schoolhouses, municipal buildings or rooms, or other public buildings should be used.

 

O.C.G.A. § 21-2-266

Schools encouraged to be used as polling places.

 

O.C.G.A. § 21-2-266

Temporary or moveable polling places may be used.

 

O.C.G.A. § 21-2-266 and 269

Not specified.

Hawaii

Yes, vote centers should be at the office of the clerk. Other locations not specified.

 

HRS § 11-109

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Idaho

Public school buildings must be made available. In mail precincts, the office of the clerk is a polling place.

 

Idaho Code § 34-302 and § 34-308

Public school buildings must be made available.

 

Idaho Code § 34-302

 

Not specified.

Not specified.

Illinois

Public buildings and schools should be used whenever available and convenient.

 

10 ILCS 5/11-4.1

 

Public buildings and schools should be used whenever available and convenient. Schools are encouraged to close or hold teacher training without students in attendance.

 

10 ILCS 5/11-4.1

Not specified.

Not specified.

Indiana

Public buildings—including school buildings and fire stations—must be made available without charge for use as polling places.

 

Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-8-4

 

Public school buildings must be made available without charge for use as polling places.

 

Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-8-4

Not specified.

Prohibited in rooms in which alcoholic beverages are kept or sold.

 

Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-8-5

Iowa

Public buildings must be made available for use as polling places.

 

Iowa Code § 49.21

 

Public school buildings should be used as polling places in elections held outside of cities.

 

Iowa Code § 49.24

Not specified.

Not specified.

Kansas

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Kentucky

Buildings constructed with tax revenues must be made available for polling places.

 

KRS § 117.065

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Louisiana

Public buildings must be used whenever possible.

 

La. R.S. § 18:533

Not specified.

Private buildings allowed only if no public buildings available.

 

La. R.S. § 18:533

Places where alcoholic beverages are dispensed; jails, penitentiaries and other penal locations; mental hospitals and mental health centers; eleemosynary or charitable institutions; private property owned, leased, or occupied by a candidate or candidate’s spouse; and private property owned, leased, or occupied by a state employees are prohibited as polling places.

 

La. R.S. § 18:533

Maine

 

21-A M.R.S. § 627

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Maryland

Public buildings must be used unless none are suitable.

 

Md. Election Law Code Ann. § 10-101

 

K-12 schools not specified. If a precinct is located on a higher education campus, the educational institution must provide a polling place for free.

 

Md. Election Law Code Ann. § 2-303

Private buildings may be used if no public buildings are available. Buildings owned or leased by a volunteer fire company or rescue squad, private firehouses, and private halls are also allowed in some situations.

 

Md. Election Law Code Ann. § 10-101

 

Buildings used or occupied by an establishment with a liquor license are prohibited, though some exceptions are allowed if alcoholic beverages are not sold or dispensed during poll hours.

 

Md. Election Law Code Ann. § 10-101

 

Massachusetts

Public “ways” may be used.

 

ALM GL ch. 54, § 24

Not specified.

Not specified.

Buildings where alcoholic beverages are sold are prohibited.

 

ALM GL ch. 54, § 24

Michigan

School buildings, fire stations, police stations, and other publicly owned or controlled buildings shall be used as polling places.

 

MCLS § 168.662

Public school buildings shall be used.

 

MCLS § 168.662

 

Tax exempt buildings may be used if public buildings are not available. Senior living facilities may be used.

 

MCLS § 168.662

 

Buildings owned by a sponsor of a political committee or independent committee are prohibited.

 

MCLS § 168.662

 

Minnesota

Public buildings and those owned or operated by cities, counties, and public colleges and universities must be available for use as polling places.

 

Minn. Stat. § 204B.16

 

K-12 schools not specified. Buildings owned by the University of Minnesota and other public colleges and universities must be made available.

 

Minn. Stat. § 204B.16

Not specified.

Buildings where intoxicating or alcoholic beverages are served are prohibited.

 

Minn. Stat. § 204B.16

 

Mississippi

All buildings owned or leased by the state, county, municipality, or school district must be made available as polling places.

 

Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-281

 

All buildings owned or leased by a school district must be made available for polling places.

 

Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-281

Not specified.

Not specified.

Missouri

Tax-supported public buildings or buildings owned by any political subdivision must be available as polling places.

 

§ 115.117 R.S.Mo.

 

Not specified.

If no public buildings are available, tax-exempt private buildings may be used. If no tax-exempt buildings are available, a suitable location may be rented.

 

§ 115.117 R.S.Mo.

Not specified.

Montana

Not specified.

Not specified.

Any building may be used as a polling place.

 

13-3-105, MCA

Not specified.

Nebraska

Buildings owned or leased by political subdivisions must be available as polling places.

 

R.R.S. Neb. § 32-905

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Nevada

Public buildings are allowed but not required.

 

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 293.437

Not specified.

Any building, public or otherwise, may be designated as a polling place. A polling place must be located in a senior living facility in certain circumstances. Polling places are also allowed on Indian reservations or colonies.

 

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 293.437, § 293.2733 and 2735

Buildings or structures named for candidates are prohibited.

 

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 293.2738

New Hampshire

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

New Jersey

Public buildings and schools should be given preference as polling places.

 

N.J. Stat. § 19:8-2 and 8-3

 

Public buildings and schools should be given preference as polling places.

 

N.J. Stat. § 19:8-2 and 8-3

Commercial or private buildings may be used if no suitable public buildings or schools are available.

 

 

N.J. Stat. § 19:8-2

 

Not specified.

New Mexico

Public buildings and public school buildings must be given preference.

 

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-7

 

Public buildings and public school buildings must be given preference.

 

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-7

If no public buildings are available or suitable, some other suitable place may be used.

 

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-7

 

Not specified.

New York

Public buildings must be made available as polling places.

 

NY CLS Elec § 4-104

 

Public school buildings must be made available as polling places.

 

NY CLS Elec § 4-104

 

Tax exempt buildings should be used whenever possible. Buildings for which a tax exemption, tax abatement, subsidy, grant or loan for construction, renovation, rehabilitation or operation has been provided by any agency of the state or any political subdivision shall be made available as polling places.

Buildings owned by religious organizations may be used.

 

NY CLS Elec § 4-104

Buildings that contain businesses that sell alcohol are prohibited.

 

NY CLS Elec § 4-104

 

North Carolina

Buildings supported by tax revenues must be available as polling places.

 

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-129

 

Schools must be available as polling places.

 

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-129

Churches are allowed, but may not be compelled to serve as polling places.

 

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-129

Not specified.

North Dakota

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Ohio

Public schools or public buildings should be used whenever practicable.

 

ORC Ann. 3501.29

 

Public schools or public buildings should be used whenever practicable.

 

ORC Ann. 3501.29

 

Any buildings supported by state taxes should be made available for polling places. Temporary structures may also be used.

 

ORC Ann. 3501.29

Not specified.

Oklahoma

Schools and municipal buildings must be available as polling places.

 

26 Okl. St. § 3-123

Schools and municipal buildings must be available as polling places.

 

26 Okl. St. § 3-123

Businesses, churches, and buildings of nongovernmental entities may be used.

 

26 Okl. St. § 3-120

Not specified.

Oregon

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Pennsylvania

Schoolhouses, municipal buildings or rooms or other public buildings shall be used whenever possible.

 

25 P.S. § 2727

 

Schoolhouses, municipal buildings or rooms or other public buildings shall be used whenever possible.

 

25 P.S. § 2727

Temporary polling places may be used.

 

25 P.S. § 2728

Rooms where malt or brewed beverages or liquors are dispensed, residences of elected or appointed party officials, and most private residences are prohibited.

 

25 P.S. § 2729-2720.1

 

Rhode Island

Not specified.

Not specified.

Polling places may be located in a low-income or elderly residential development.

 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 17-11-1

Not specified.

South Carolina

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

South Dakota

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Tennessee

Public buildings and public school buildings are preferred.

 

Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-3-107

Public buildings and public school buildings are preferred. Public schools used for polling places should be closed for instruction on the November election.

 

Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-3-107

Private buildings may be used if necessary.

 

Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-3-107

 

Not specified.

Texas

Public buildings should be used if possible.

 

Tex. Elec. Code § 43.031

 

Not specified.

Other buildings may be used if necessary, including a building on a federal military base or facility.

 

Tex. Elec. Code § 43.031

Private residences of candidates running for elected office or relatives of candidates running for elected office are prohibited.

 

Tex. Elec. Code § 43.031

Utah

Not specified.

Not specified.

Government buildings should be used whenever possible.

 

Utah Code Ann. § 20A-3a-703

Not specified.

Vermont

Public places shall be used as polling places.

 

17 V.S.A. § 2502

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Virginia

Public buildings should be used whenever possible.

 

Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-310

Not specified.

Non-governmental buildings may be used if necessary.

 

Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-310

Buildings that serve as the headquarters, office or assembly building for any private organization should not be used as polling places, with some exceptions.

 

Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-310.1

Washington

Public buildings shall be used.

 

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 29A.40.160

Not specified.

Buildings leased by a public entity may be used, including libraries.

 

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 29A.40.160

Not specified.

West Virginia

 

W. Va. Code § 3-1-23

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Not specified.

Wisconsin

Public buildings should be used whenever practicable.

 

Wis. Stat. § 5.25

Not specified.

Nonpublic buildings may be used.

 

Wis. Stat. § 5.25

Not specified.

Wyoming

Not specified.

Schools and community colleges must be made available as polling places.

 

Wyo. Stat. § 22-12-102

Not specified.

Not specified.

Consolidated Polling Places and Vote Centers

As more voters choose to vote early or by mail, some states are moving away from traditional precinct polling places, which require many separate locations, and instead opting for consolidated polling places or vote centers. A consolidated polling place serves more than one precinct at a single location, and vote centers are locations where any voter within the jurisdiction can vote, regardless of their residential address. Seventeen states allow jurisdictions to use vote centers on Election Day; additional states may permit the use of vote centers during the early voting period.

State

Consolidated or Vote Centers Allowed

Alabama

Consolidated polling places allowed.

Code of Ala. § 17-6-6

Alaska

Not specified.

Arizona

 

Consolidated polling places and vote centers allowed.

Ariz. Rev. Stat. §16-411

Arkansas

Consolidated polling places and vote centers allowed.

A.C.A. § 7-5-101 and § 7-1-113

California

Consolidated polling places and vote centers allowed.

Cal Elec Code § 12241 and § 4005

Colorado

 

Vote centers allowed.

C.R.S. 1-5-102.9

Connecticut

Not specified.

Delaware

Not specified.

District of Columbia

Not specified.

Florida

Not specified.

Georgia

Not specified.

Hawaii

Vote centers are used.

HRS § 11-109

Idaho

Not specified.

Illinois

Not specified.

Indiana

Vote centers may be used.

Ind. Code §3-11-18.1

Iowa

Vote centers are allowed in some elections.

Iowa Code § 49.11

Kansas

Vote centers are used.

K.S.A. § 25-2701(a)(1)

Kentucky

Consolidated polling places are allowed.

KRS § 117.066

Louisiana

Consolidated polling places may be used.

La. R.S. § 18:425.1

Maine

 

Consolidated polling places may be used.

21-A M.R.S. § 631-A

Maryland

Not specified.

Massachusetts

Not specified.

Michigan

Consolidated polling places may be used.

MCLS § 168.659

Minnesota

Consolidated polling places may be used.

Minn. Stat. § 204B.14

Mississippi

Not specified.

Missouri

Consolidated polling places are allowed.

§ 115.115 R.S.Mo.

Montana

Not specified.

Nebraska

Not specified.

Nevada

Vote centers and consolidated polling places are allowed.

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 293.3072 and § 293.207

New Hampshire

Not specified.

New Jersey

Not specified.

New Mexico

Vote centers are allowed.

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-4

New York

Not specified.

North Carolina

Not specified.

North Dakota

Vote centers are allowed.

N.D. Cent. Code, § 16.1-04-02

Ohio

Not specified.

Oklahoma

Not specified.

Oregon

Not specified.

Pennsylvania

Not specified.

Rhode Island

Not specified.

South Carolina

Not specified.

South Dakota

Vote centers may be used.

S.D. Codified Laws § 12-14-17

Tennessee

Vote centers allowed in some counties as part of a pilot project. Consolidated polling places are allowed.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-3-301-3018 and § 2-3-101

Texas

Vote centers may be used.

Tex. Elec. Code § 43.007

Utah

Vote centers are used. Consolidated polling places may be used.

Utah Code Ann. § 20A-3a-701-703 and § 20A-5-303

Vermont

Not specified.

Virginia

Not specified.

Washington

Vote centers are used.

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 29A.40.160

West Virginia

Not specified.

Wisconsin

Not specified.

Wyoming

Vote centers may be used.

Wyo. Stat. § 22-1-102

Polling Place Hours

Polling place hours vary by state, though most are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

State

Polling Place Hours

Citation

Alabama

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Code of Ala. § 17-9-6

Alaska

8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Alaska Stat. § 15.15.080

Arizona

6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A.R.S. § 16-565

Arkansas

7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

A.C.A. § 7-5-304

California

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cal Elec Code § 14212

Colorado

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

C.R.S. 1-7-101

Connecticut

6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-174

Delaware

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

15 Del. C. § 4931 and § 4947

District of Columbia

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

D.C. Code § 1-1001.10

Florida

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Fla. Stat. § 100.011

Georgia

7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Until 8 p.m. for cities with a population of 300,000 or more.

O.C.G.A. § 21-2-403

Hawaii

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

HRS § 11-131

Idaho

8 a.m. to 8 p.m. County clerks may opt to open at 7 a.m. during primary or general elections.

Idaho Code § 34-1101

Illinois

6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

10 ILCS 5/17-1

Indiana

6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-8-8

Iowa

7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Iowa Code § 49.73

Kansas

7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for counties in central time zone. 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for counties in mountain time zone.

K.S.A. § 25-106

 

Kentucky

6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

KRS § 118.035

Louisiana

7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Polls open at 6 a.m. for congressional elections.

La. R.S. § 18:541

 

Maine

6-8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Opening times are flexible and may be as late as 10 a.m. depending on size of the municipality.

21-A M.R.S. § 626

 

Maryland

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Md. Election Law Code Ann. § 10-301

Massachusetts

5:45-7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Opening times are flexible.

ALM GL ch. 54, § 64

 

Michigan

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

MCLS § 168.720

Minnesota

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Minn. Stat. § 204C.05

Mississippi

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-541

Missouri

6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

§ 115.407 R.S.Mo.

Montana

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

13-1-106, MCA

Nebraska

7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in mountain time zone. 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in central time zone.

R.R.S. Neb. § 32-908

 

Nevada

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 293.273

New Hampshire

Municipalities determine opening time, but must open by 11 a.m. and close no earlier than 7 p.m.

RSA 659:4

 

New Jersey

6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

N.J. Stat. § 19:15-2

New Mexico

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-12-1

New York

6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

NY CLS Elec § 8-100

North Carolina

6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-166.01

North Dakota

Open between 7-9 a.m. and close between 7-9 p.m.

N.D. Cent. Code, § 16.1-01-03

Ohio

6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

ORC Ann. 3501.32

Oklahoma

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

26 Okl. St. § 7-104

Oregon

Not specified.

 

Pennsylvania

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

25 P.S. § 3045

Rhode Island

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

RIGL 17-18-10 and 17-18-11

South Carolina

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

S.C. Code Ann. § 7-13-60

South Dakota

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

S.D. Codified Laws § 12-2-3

Tennessee

Opening times vary by county. Polls close at 8 p.m. in eastern time zone and 7 p.m. in central time zone.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-3-201

Texas

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Tex. Elec. Code § 41.031

Utah

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Utah Code Ann. § 20A-1-302

Vermont

Polls open between 5-10 a.m. as determined by towns. Polls close at 7 p.m.

17 V.S.A. § 2561

Virginia

6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-603

Washington

Opening time is not specified. Polling places close at 8 p.m.

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 29A.40.160

 

West Virginia

6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

W. Va. Code § 3-1-31

Wisconsin

7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Wis. Stat. § 6.78

Wyoming

7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Wyo. Stat. § 22-13-101

Establishing Polling Places

Fifteen states require that polling places be established or publicly announced a certain amount of time prior to Election Day. These dates generally fall between 20 and 90 days before the election (see table below). Minnesota uses a much earlier schedule, requiring each municipality and county to designate polling places by Dec. 31 of each year. See the table below for more information.

State

Responsible Official (local or state)

When Polling Places must be Established or Announced

Alabama

County Board of Commissioners

(local).

 

Code of Ala. § 17-6-3

Not specified.

Alaska

 

Election supervisor and election board chairperson (local).

 

Alaska Stat. § 15.10.020

Not specified.

Arizona

 

Board of Supervisors

(local).

 

A.R.S. § 16-411

Twenty days before the election.

 

A.R.S. § 16-411

Arkansas

Board of Election Commissioners

(local).

 

A.C.A. § 7-5-101

Not specified.

California

 

County election officials

(local).

 

Cal Elec Code § 12327

Twenty-nine days before the election.

 

Cal Elec Code § 12286

Colorado

County Clerk and Recorder

(local).

 

C.R.S. 1-5-101

Not specified.

Connecticut

Town’s legislative body or a municipality’s registrar of voters (local).

 

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-168

Thirty-one days before the election.

 

Conn. Gen. Stat. § 9-168

Delaware

Department of Elections

(local).

 

15 Del. C. § 4512

Not specified.

District of Columbia

Board of Elections, assisted by the Department of General Services

(state).

 

D.C. Code § 1-1001.05

Not specified.

Florida

Supervisor of Board of County Commissioners

(local).

 

Fla. Stat. § 101.001

Not specified.

Georgia

Superintendent of County or Governing Authority of Municipality

(local).

 

O.C.G.A. § 21-2-265

Not specified.

Hawaii

Chief election officer for the representative district (local).

 

HRS § 11-92.1

Not specified.

Idaho

Board of County Commissioners

(local).

 

Idaho Code § 34-302

The fifth Friday before the election.

 

Idaho Code § 34-302

 

Illinois

Board of Election Commissioners

(local).

 

10 ILCS 5/11-1

Not specified.

Indiana

A county executive

(local).

 

Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-8-3

Twenty-nine days before the election.

 

Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 3-11-8-3.1

Iowa

County Commissioner of Elections

(local).

 

Iowa Code § 47.2

Not specified.

Kansas

County election officers

(local).

 

K.S.A. § 25-2701

Not specified.

Kentucky

County Board of Elections

(local).

 

KRS § 117.065

By September 20 of each year.

 

KRS § 117.065

Louisiana

Governing authority of each parish

(local).

 

La. R.S. § 18:533

Not specified.

Maine

Municipalities

(local).

 

21-A M.R.S. § 631-A

Not specified.

Maryland

Local Board of Elections

(local).

 

Md. Election Law Code Ann. § 2-202

Not specified.

Massachusetts

Alderman in cities

(local).

 

ALM GL ch. 54, § 24

Twenty days before the election.

 

ALM GL ch. 54, § 24

Michigan

City, Village or Township Legislative Body

(local).

 

MCLS § 168.662

Not specified.

Minnesota

Municipal and County Government

(local).

 

Minn. Stat. § 204B.16

By December 31 of each year.

 

Minn. Stat. § 204B.16

Mississippi

Governing authorities of any municipality

(local).

 

Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-557

Not specified.

Missouri

Election authority in each jurisdiction

(local).

 

§ 115.115 R.S.Mo.

Not specified.

Montana

County Governing Board

(local).

 

13-3-105, MCA

Thirty days before the election.

 

13-3-105, MCA

 

Nebraska

County election commissioner or county clerk

(local).

 

R.R.S. Neb. § 32-904

Not specified.

Nevada

County or city clerk

(local).

 

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 293.437

Not specified.

New Hampshire

Town Selectmen

(local).

 

RSA 658:9

Not specified.

New Jersey

County Board of Elections (local).

 

N.J. Stat. § 19:8-2

Not specified.

New Mexico

Board of County Commissioners

(local)

 

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 1-3-2

Not specified.

New York

Local Board of Elections

(local)

 

NY CLS Elec § 4-104

By March 15 of each year.

 

NY CLS Elec § 4-104

 

North Carolina

County Board of Elections

(local).

 

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-128

Forty-five days before the election.

 

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-128

North Dakota

Board of county commissioners and the governing body of cities (local).

 

N.D. Cent. Code, § 16.1-04-02

Sixty-four days before the election.

 

N.D. Cent. Code, § 16.1-04-02

Ohio

County Board of Elections

(local).

 

ORC Ann. 3501.29

Not specified.

Oklahoma

County Board of Elections or Board of Education for any school district

(local).

 

26 Okl. St. § 3-120

Not specified.

Oregon

County Clerk determines location of voting booths based on the county’s population

(local).

 

ORS § 254.474

Not specified.

Pennsylvania

County Board of Elections

(local).

 

25 P.S. § 2726

Twenty days before the election.

 

25 P.S. § 2726

Rhode Island

State Election Board

(state), unless the established polling place no longer meets the minimal voter requirements laid out by this statute, in which case local election boards may establish replacement polling places (local).

 

R.I. Gen. Laws § 17-11-1

Not specified.

South Carolina

General Assembly

(state) and County Election Commission (local).

 

S.C. Code Ann. § 7-7-10

Not specified.

South Dakota

Board of County Commissioners

(local).

 

S.D. Codified Laws § 12-14-1

Not specified.

Tennessee

County Election Commission

(local).

 

Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-3-101

Not specified.

Texas

County Clerk

(local).

 

Elec. Code § 43.002

Not specified.

Utah

Election Officer

(local).

 

Utah Code Ann. § 20A-3a-701-703 and § 20A-5-403

Not specified.

Vermont

Board of Civil Authority

(local).

 

17 V.S.A. § 2501

Thirty days before the election.

 

17 V.S.A. § 2502

Virginia

Governing Body of County, City, or Town

(local).

 

Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-307

Not specified.

Washington

County auditor (local).

 

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 29A.40.160

Not specified.

West Virginia

County Commission

(local).

 

W. Va. Code § 3-1-23

Not specified.

Wisconsin

Board of Election Commissioners or governing body of towns and villages

(local).

 

Wis. Stat. § 5.25

Thirty days before the election.

 

Wis. Stat. § 5.25

Wyoming

County Clerk

(local).

 

Wyo. Stat. § 22-12-101

Not specified.

Guns in Polling Places

Ten states—Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas—the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico explicitly prohibit guns and other weapons in polling places.

In many other states, concealed and open carry laws may restrict or allow the presence of firearms in certain locations that happen to be polling places, but not by virtue of their being polling places alone. For example, states may prohibit firearms in public schools, which are often designated as polling places thereby prohibiting firearms at those specific polling sites.

State and Statutory Citation

Description

Arizona

ARS § 13-3102(A)(11)  

A person commits misconduct involving weapons by knowingly: Unless specifically authorized by law, entering an election polling place on the day of any election carrying a deadly weapon.

California

CA Election Code § 18544(a)

Any person in possession of a firearm… who is stationed in the immediate vicinity of, or posted at, a polling place without written authorization of the appropriate city or county elections official is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

District of Columbia

DC ST § 7-2509.07(a)(5)

“No person holding a license shall carry a pistol in the following locations or under the following circumstances: … A polling place while voting is occurring."

Florida

FRS § 790.06(12)(a)6

A license issued under this section does not authorize any person to openly carry a handgun or carry a concealed weapon or firearm into: Any polling place.

Georgia

Ga. Code Ann. § 16-11-127(b)(7)

“A person shall be guilty of carrying a weapon or long gun in an unauthorized location and punished as for a misdemeanor when he or she carries a weapon or long gun while: …Within 150 feet of any polling place when elections are being conducted and such polling place is being used as a polling place…”

Louisiana

LRS 18: § 461.7(C)(3) and (D)

No person shall: Carry or possess a firearm while present in a polling place, except a peace officer as defined by R.S. 40:2402(3)(a), in the performance of his official duties.

Mississippi

MCA § 45-9-101(13)

No license issued pursuant to this section shall authorize any person to carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver into any polling place.

Missouri

MRS § 571.107.1(2)

No concealed carry permit issued pursuant to sections 571.101 to 571.121, valid concealed carry endorsement issued prior to August 28, 2013, or a concealed carry endorsement or permit issued by another state or political subdivision of another state shall authorize any person to carry concealed firearms into: Within twenty-five feet of any polling place on any election day. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises of the polling place shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises.

Ohio

ORC § 3505.21(B)

“…no person carrying a firearm or other deadly weapon shall serve as an observer.”

Puerto Rico

16 L.P.R.A. § 4252(c)

Any person who during the day set for an election process, disturbs such process in or outside of a polling place and up to a radius of one hundred (100) meters therefrom…or who, without being a law enforcement officer, carries a firearm or any object for the purpose of inflicting bodily injury shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, be punished by imprisonment for a minimum term of one (1) month and a maximum term of six (6) months, or a minimum fine of one hundred dollars ($100) and a maximum fine of five hundred dollars ($500), or both penalties, at the discretion of the court.

South Carolina

SC ST § 23-31-215(M)(3)

“A permit issued pursuant to this section does not authorize a permit holder to carry a concealable weapon into a: polling place on election days.”

Texas

Texas Penal Code § 46.03(a)(2)

A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm, illegal knife, club, or prohibited weapon on the premises of a polling place on the day of an election or while early voting is in progress.

The Role of Law Enforcement at Polling Places

Federal and state laws provide guidance on the roles that police (and other uniformed officers) can have at polling places on Election Day or during in-person early voting. These regulations are intended to prevent intimidation or interference with freedom of elections.

State laws are varied, but in general, police may be present at polling places for the purpose of law enforcement. The table below provides statutory excerpts. In summary:

  • Five state affirmatively indicate that police officers shall be stationed at polling places or be on notice to appear if requested (Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, New York and Wisconsin).
  • Sixteen states are silent on police at polling places (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Wyoming).
  • Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia allow police to be requested, summoned or given permission to come to enforce the law or on official business (California, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia). 

Federal law clearly prohibits the deployment of troops and armed agents to polls.

  • Ordering troops or armed forces to a polling place is a federal crime (18 U.S.C. § 592).
  • Officers and members of the Armed Forces are generally prohibited from interfering in elections through intimidation of voters and other related conduct (18 U.S.C. § 593, §10102).

Note: For additions, suggestions or corrections, please contact mailto:elections-info@ncsl.org.

State Statutes Governing the Presence of Police at Polling Places

State

Law Enforcement Permitted in Polling Place?

Details

Alabama

Yes

“The sheriff of each county shall, on each day of election, be present in person or by deputy at all election precincts where elections are held in the county, and shall preserve good order; and, in order that every elector who desires to vote may do so without interference or interruption, such sheriff or deputy may specially deputize a sufficient force to act at all election precincts on the day of any election that the sheriff or deputy may deem necessary. Any sheriff or deputy who willfully or corruptly fails to perform any duty imposed by this section, on conviction, shall be punished in accordance with Section 17-17-2.” (Ala. Code Section 17-9-1)

Alaska

Not Specified

 

Arkansas

Yes

“A person may not enter a polling site on election day during voting hours unless the person is…(F) a law enforcement officer acting in the line of duty.” (A.C.A. § 7-5-310)

Arizona

Not Specified

 

California

Yes, if conducting official business

“Any person in possession of a firearm or any uniformed peace officer… or any person who is wearing a uniform of a peace officer…who is stationed in the immediate vicinity of, or posted at, a polling place without written authorization of the appropriate city or county elections official is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both…. This section shall not apply to… a peace officer who is conducting official business in the course of his or her public employment or who is at the polling place to cast his or her vote.” (West’s Ann.Cal.Elec.Code § 18544)

Colorado

Not Specified*

 

Connecticut

Yes, if requested

“The registrars of voters may request the head of the police department of the municipality, or, if none, a constable serving such municipality, to provide police protection at any polling place of any regular or special state or municipal election where they may anticipate disorder. The moderator of such election may, when any disorder arises in such election and the offender refuses to submit to the moderator’s lawful authority, order any officer with power of arrest to take the offender into custody and, if necessary, to remove the offender from such election until the offender conforms to order or, if need be, until such election is closed, and thereupon such officer may command all necessary assistance.” (C.G.S.A. § 9-230)

Delaware

Not Specified

 

Washington, D.C.

Yes, if requested

“The Precinct Captain shall have full authority to maintain order, pursuant to the Election Act… including full authority to request police officials to enforce lawful orders of the Precinct Captain.”

“The only persons who shall be permitted to be present in voting places or ballot counting places are the following…(b)police officers.” (D.C. Mun. Regs. Tit. 3, § 707)

Florida

Yes, with permission

“The sheriff shall deputize a deputy sheriff for each polling place and each early voting site who shall be present during the time the polls or early voting sites are open and until the election is completed, who shall be subject to all lawful commands of the clerk or inspectors, and who shall maintain good order. The deputy may summon assistance from among bystanders to aid him or her when necessary to maintain peace and order at the polls or early voting sites.” (West’s F.S.A. § 102.031)

“No sheriff, deputy sheriff, police officer, or other officer of the law shall be allowed within the polling place without permission from the clerk or a majority of the inspectors, except to cast his or her ballot. Upon the failure of any of said officers to comply with this provision, the clerk or the inspectors or any one of them shall make an affidavit against such officer for his or her arrest.” (West’s F.S.A. § 102.101)

Georgia

Yes, to enforce the law

“Any law enforcement officer who:

(1) Willfully neglects or refuses to clear an avenue to the door of any polling place which is obstructed in such a way as to prevent electors from entering, when called upon to do so by any poll officer or elector of the precinct;

(2) Willfully neglects or refuses to maintain order and quell any disturbance if such arises at any polling place upon the day of any primary or election, when called upon to do so by any poll officer or elector of the precinct; or

(3) Willfully hinders or delays, or attempts to hinder or delay, any poll officer in the performance of any duty under this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” (Ga. Code Ann., § 21-2-593)

Hawaii

Not Specified

 

Idaho

Not Specified*

 

Illinois

Yes

“Representatives of an election authority…and law enforcement agencies, including but not limited to a United States Attorney, a State’s attorney, the Attorney General, and a State, county, or local police department, in the performance of their official election duties, shall be permitted at all times to enter and remain in the polling place. Upon entering the polling place, such representatives shall display their official credentials or other identification to the judges of election…Uniformed police officers assigned to polling place duty shall follow all lawful instructions of the judges of election.” (10 ILCS 5/7-34)

“Board of Election Commissioners may demand of the chief of police or the sheriff, to furnish officers of the law to attend during the progress of any registration, revision or election, at any place or places of registration, or any polling place, or places, designated by said commissioners, or to attend at any meeting of said commissioners. Said officers of the law, shall be furnished by said chief of police or sheriff and shall be stationed in the place or places of registration and polling place or places in such manner as said commissioners shall direct, and during said assignment shall be under the direction and control of the election commissioners.” (10 ILCS 5/11-4)

Indiana

Yes, if summoned

“Law enforcement officers of the state and of political subdivisions may not come within fifty (50) feet of the polls, except to do any of the following:

(1) To serve process of court.

(2) To vote.

(3) To be present when summoned by the election sheriffs or precinct judges.

(4) To serve as a pollbook holder.

(5) To serve as an absentee ballot courier appointed under IC 3-11.5-4-22.” (IC 3-6-6-36)

Iowa

Yes, if assigned or requested

“The following persons shall be permitted to be present at and in the immediate vicinity of the polling places, provided they do not solicit votes… 4. Any peace officer assigned or called upon to keep order or maintain compliance with the provisions of this chapter, upon request of the commissioner or of the chairperson of the precinct election board.” (I.C.A. § 49.104)

Kansas

Not Specified

 

Kentucky

Yes, if requested and to enforce the law

“Any precinct election officer, county clerk, deputy county clerk, or any law enforcement official may enforce the election laws and maintain law and order at the polls and within one hundred (100) feet of any entrance to the building in which the voting machine is located if that entrance is unlocked and is used by voters. Assistance may be requested of any law enforcement officer.” (KRS § 117.235)

Louisiana

Yes, if summoned or in case of emergency

“Law enforcement officers shall not be stationed at polling places on election day, but the commissioners or the clerk of court may summon law enforcement officers to assist them in preserving order, enforcing the election laws, or protecting election officials from interference with the performance of their duties. Law enforcement officers shall not be eligible to serve as commissioners-in-charge, commissioners, alternate commissioners, or watchers.”

“Notwithstanding any provision of this Section to the contrary, law enforcement officers may enter the polling place when there is a reasonable belief there is an emergency and the commissioners are unable to summon the law enforcement officers.” (LSA-R.S. 18:428)

Maine

Yes, if permitted

“The clerk, election officials and not more than 2 voters in excess of the number of voting booths may be within the guardrail enclosure. The warden may permit peace officers to be within the enclosure to enforce the law. All other persons must remain outside of the enclosure.” (21-A M.R.S.A. § 681)

Maryland

Yes

“A police officer who is on duty at a polling place shall obey the order of an election judge for that polling place.

 A police officer making an arrest under an order of an election judge is fully protected in so doing as if the police officer received a valid warrant to make the arrest. A police officer who is on duty at a polling place shall protect a challenger or watcher in the discharge of the duties of the challenger or watcher.” (MD Code, Election Law, § 10-304)

Massachusetts

Yes

“The board or officer in charge of the police force of each city and town shall detail a sufficient number of police officers or constables for each building that contains the polling place for one or more precincts at every election therein to preserve order and to protect the election officers and supervisors from any interference with their duties and to aid in enforcing the laws relating to elections; provided, however, that this section may apply to section 25B at the discretion of the election officers and registrars for a city or town.” (M.G.L.A. 54 § 72)

Michigan

Not Specified

 

Minnesota

Yes, if summoned

“Except when summoned by an election judge to restore the peace or when voting or registering to vote, no peace officer shall enter or remain in a polling place or stand within 50 feet of the entrance of a polling place.” (M.S.A. § 204C.06)

Mississippi

Not Specified

 

Missouri

Yes, if requested

“It shall be the duty of the police, if requested by the election authority or judges of election, to exclude any watcher or challenger from the polling place or the place where votes are being counted.” (V.A.M.S. 115.111)

Montana

Yes, to enforce the law

“An election officer, sheriff, constable, or other peace officer may clear the passageway, prevent any obstruction, or arrest any individual obstructing the passageway to a polling place.” (MCA 13-13-122)

Nebraska

Yes, if appointed or summoned

“The election commissioner, county clerk, or city or village clerk may appoint or summon such police officers and sheriffs as may be necessary to maintain order at the election and enforce the Election Act. Except in counties having an election commissioner, if no police officer or sheriff is available, the judges of election may appoint one or more persons in writing to act as and have the powers of a police officer.” (Neb.Rev.St. § 32-924)

Nevada

Yes, if requested and appointed

“If requested by the city clerk, the chief law enforcement officer of the city shall:

(a) Appoint an officer for each polling place in the city and for the central election board or the absent ballot central counting board; or

(b) Deputize, as an officer for the election, an election board officer for each polling place and for the central election board or the absent ballot central counting board. The deputized officer may not receive any additional compensation for the services he or she provides as an officer during the election for which the officer is deputized. Officers so appointed and deputized shall preserve order during hours of voting and attend the closing of the polls.” (N.R.S. 293C.220)

New Hampshire

Not Specified

 

New Jersey

Yes, if requested

“Such election board, or any two members thereof, may, by writing under their hands whenever in their opinion it shall be necessary to do so, request the municipal authorities of any municipality within which their district is situated or the body or officer having charge and direction of the police force in such municipality, to detail one or more policemen to assist in preserving the peace and good order in and about such polling place, which request shall forthwith be complied with as far as possible by the body or officer to whom the same is made.” (N. J. S. A. 19:6-15)

“No person who is employed as a police officer, either full-time or part-time, by the State or an instrumentality thereof, or by a political subdivision of the State or an instrumentality thereof, and who is a member of a district board of elections or serves as a duly authorized challenger for a political party or a candidate or on a public question, shall wear a police officer's uniform or carry an exposed weapon while serving as a board member or a challenger, as the case may be, at a polling place on an election day. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.” (N. J. S. A. 19:6-15.1)

New Mexico

Yes, if requested

“The presiding judge or any election judge may call upon any peace officer to assist in the maintenance of order in the polling place. When so requested, the peace officer shall render assistance.” (N. M. S. A. 1978, § 1-12-4)

“A. Any member of the state police or other peace officer may enter a polling place upon request for the purpose of observing the conduct of the election.

B. No member of the state police or other peace officer shall interfere in any way with a member of the precinct board, a voter or the conduct of the election, except to assist in maintaining order and orderly control of access when requested by the presiding judge or an election judge.

C. Any member of the state police or other peace officer violating Subsection B of this section is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and in addition to any other penalty provided by law shall be subject to dismissal and is ineligible for reinstatement.” (N. M. S. A. 1978, § 1-12-5)

New York

Yes

“In the city of New York, during days of primary, general, special and community school board elections, at each premises wherein a polling place or places are located, at least one police officer or peace officer designated by the police commissioner of such city pursuant to the provisions of article two of the criminal procedure law shall be assigned for duty from the opening until the closing of the polls. Additional police officers or peace officers may be assigned as is deemed appropriate by the police commissioner of such city.” (McKinney’s Election Law § 8-104)

North Carolina

Yes, if requested

“In the discharge of the duties prescribed in the preceding paragraph of this section, the chief judge and judges may call upon the sheriff, the police, or other peace officers to aid them in enforcing the law. They may order the arrest of any person violating any provision of the election laws, but such arrest shall not prevent the person arrested from registering or voting if he is entitled to do so. The sheriff, police officers, and other officers of the peace shall immediately obey and aid in the enforcement of any lawful order made by the precinct election officials in the enforcement of the election laws. The chief judge and judges of election of any precinct, or any two of such election officials, shall have the authority to deputize any person or persons as police officers to aid in maintaining order at the place of registration or voting.” (N.C.G.S.A. § 163-48)

North Dakota

Not Specified

 

Ohio

Yes

“The officer or authority having command of the police force of any municipal corporation or the sheriff of any county, on requisition of the board of elections or the secretary of state, shall promptly detail for service at the polling place in any precinct of such municipal corporation or county such force as the board or secretary of state considers necessary. On every day of election such officer or authority shall have a special force in readiness for any emergency and for assignment to duty in the precinct polling places. At least one policeman shall be assigned to duty in each precinct on each day of an election, when requested by the board or the secretary of state. Such police officer shall have access at all times to the polling place, and he shall promptly place under arrest any person found violating any provisions of Title XXXV of the Revised Code.” (R.C. § 3501.34)

Oklahoma

Not Specified

 

Oregon

Not Specified

 

Pennsylvania

Yes, if requested

“The election officers, or any three qualified electors of any election district, may call upon any mayor, chief burgess, sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable, deputy constable, or police officer, to clear an avenue to the door of any polling place which is obstructed in such a way as to prevent electors from approaching, or to maintain order and quell any disturbance, if such arises. No police officer in commission, whether in uniform or in citizen's clothes, shall be within one hundred feet of a polling place during the conduct of any primary or election, unless in the exercise of his privilege of voting, or for the purpose of serving warrants, or unless called upon to preserve the peace, as provided by this act. Provided, however, that such prohibition shall not apply to such police officers assigned to a police station or headquarters located in a building or on the premises where the polling place is located and such police officers must be within one hundred (100) feet of the polling place to enter and exit such police station or headquarters. And provided further, that in no event may any police officer unlawfully use or practice any intimidation, threats, force or violence nor, in any manner, unduly influence or overawe any elector or prevent him from voting or restrain his freedom of choice, nor may any such police officer electioneer or directly or indirectly attempt to influence the election or electors while within one hundred (100) feet of a polling place as herein set forth. And provided further, that where polling places are located in buildings or on premises where a police station or headquarters are located, the polling place shall be located in a separate room.” (25 P.S. § 3047)

Rhode Island

Yes

“The chiefs of police of cities and towns, and town sergeants of towns having no chief of police, shall detail a certain number of police officers to each polling place as may be requested by the local board. The police officers shall preserve order at each polling place and within two hundred (200) feet of the polling place. It shall be the duty of every police officer or other peace officer or town or police constable to arrest without warrant any person detected in the act of violating the provisions of this chapter, but no arrest shall be made without the approval of the warden.” (Gen.Laws 1956, § 17-19-21)

South Carolina

Yes, if summoned

“No sheriff, deputy sheriff, policeman or other officers shall be allowed to come within the polling place except to vote unless summoned into it by a majority of the managers. On failure of any sheriff, deputy sheriff, policeman or other officer to comply with the provisions of the preceding sentence, the managers of election, or one of them, shall make affidavit against such sheriff, deputy sheriff, policeman or other officer for his arrest.” (Code 1976 § 7-13-160)

South Dakota

Yes, to enforce the law

“Each election officer and all law enforcement officers shall remove materials in violation of § 12-18-3 and disobedient persons in violation of § 12-18-9.1 and arrest any person so interfering with the conduct of the election.” (SDCL § 12-18-9.2)

Tennessee

Yes, if requested

“No police or other law enforcement officer may come nearer to the entrance to a polling place than ten feet (10′) or enter the polling place except at the request of the officer of elections or the county election commission or to make an arrest or to vote.” (T. C. A. § 2-7-103)

Texas

Not Specified

 

Utah

Yes, to enforce the law

“A sheriff, deputy sheriff, or municipal law enforcement officer shall prevent the obstruction of the entrance to a polling place and may arrest an individual creating an obstruction.” (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-3a-501)

Vermont

Not Specified

 

Virginia

Yes, if requested

“The officers of election, with the consent of the chief law-enforcement officer for the county or city, may designate a law-enforcement officer who shall attend at the polling place and preserve order inside and outside the polling place. If no law-enforcement officer is in attendance, the officers of election may appoint, in writing, one or more persons specially, who shall have all the powers of a law-enforcement officer in the polling place and within the prohibited area prescribed by § 24.2-604.” (VA Code Ann. § 24.2-606)

Washington

Yes, to enforce the law

“During the voting period that begins eighteen days before and ends the day of a special election, general election, or primary, no person may:

(a) Within a voting center:

(i) Suggest or persuade or attempt to suggest or persuade any voter to vote for or against any candidate or ballot measure;

(ii) Circulate cards or handbills of any kind;

(iii) Solicit signatures to any kind of petition; or

(iv) Engage in any practice which interferes with the freedom of voters to exercise their franchise or disrupts the administration of the voting center;

(b) Obstruct the doors or entries to a building in which a voting center or ballot drop location is located or prevent free access to and from any voting center or ballot drop location.

(2) Any sheriff, deputy sheriff, or municipal law enforcement officer shall stop the prohibited activity and may arrest any person engaging in the prohibited activity.” (West's RCWA 29A.84.510)

West Virginia

Yes, to enforce the law

“The commissioners of election shall preserve order at, and in the vicinity of, the polls, and keep the way to the polls open and free from obstruction, and may direct disorderly persons to be removed therefrom, and, if necessary and proper, to be taken and held in custody until sunrise of the next day, or for any shorter time, which may be done by any sheriff or constable or other person or persons designated by the commissioners of election.” (W. Va. Code, § 3-1-38)

Wisconsin

Yes

“The chief of police shall station a police officer at polling places designated by the municipal board of election commissioners for each election.” (W.S.A. 7.22)

Wyoming

Not Specified

 

*Colorado law prohibits the establishment of a polling place at a police station, sheriff's office or town marshal's office, except if the building is used for multiple purposes. (C.R.S.A. § 1-5-102.9)

*Idaho Code § 18-2318, which addresses electioneering, provides that “Any election officer, sheriff, constable or other peace officer is hereby authorized, and it is hereby made the duty of such officer, to arrest any person violating the provisions of subsections (1) and (2) of this section.”t

Additional Resources