§ 24.2-1000 Bribery, intimidation, etc., of officers of election
Any person who, by bribery, intimidation, or other means in violation of the election laws, willfully hinders or prevents, or attempts to hinder or prevent, the officers of election at any precinct from holding an election shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.
Code 1950, § 24-191; 1970, c. 462, § 24.1-264; 1993, c. 641 .
If you have a gun license, can you bring a gun into/near a polling place? The Virginia Department of Elections takes no official position on this. There are no specific prohibitions on guns or weapons in Title 24.2. Our guidance is to follow the rules that would otherwise govern the polling place. There are prohibitions on bringing guns and other weapons into schools (http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-308.1/) and courthouses (http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-283.1/) in the Commonwealth. There is also a prohibition on bringing guns into houses of worship (http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-283/) while religious services are being conducted, but former Attorney General Cuccinelli said you can get around that if you want to be ready to stand your ground (see http://ag.virginia.gov/files/Opinions/2011/11-043%20cole.pdf). If a polling place is located on private property, a property owner’s prohibition on guns and/or other weapons should be followed.
In addition, § 15.2-915 (http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title15.2/chapter9/section15.2-915/) of the Code would prevent a locality from prohibiting firearms in their polling places generally; however, it would presumably allow the locality to prohibit officers of election and other local elections staff (who are employees of the locality) from carrying weapons with them to work (say, in a polling place). I’m not aware of any locality that has an explicit prohibition on guns in locality workplaces.
According to Virginia Practice Series (available on Westlaw), conduct violative of this statute “need not be directed at election officials, but rather must hinder or prevent them from holding the election.” Further, “[s]ince an accused can hinder or prevent those officials from holding an election by conduct directed at another, e.g., by intimidating voters,” this statute “can be used to prosecute a wide range of conduct.”
There is very little law interpreting this Chapter of the Code, as the prosecution of election offenses in Virginia is rare.
As a criminal statue, this will be strictly construed and require a form of intent. The vast majority of Chapter 10 violations are prosecuted by Commonwealth Attorneys, except where a violation is alleged to involve operation of the State Board or a local electoral board which may involve action by the Attorney General.
1. Definition for Person
Any individual or corporation, partnership, business, labor organization, membership organization, association, cooperative, or other like entity.
For the purpose of applying the filing and reporting requirements of this chapter, the term “person” shall not include an organization holding tax-exempt status under § 501(c) (3), 501(c) (4), or 501(c) (6) of the United States Internal Revenue Code which, in providing information to voters, does not advocate or endorse the election or defeat of a particular candidate, group of candidates, or the candidates of a particular political party.
2. Definition for Election
A general, primary, or special election.
3. Definition for Precinct
The territory designated by the governing body of a county, city, or town to be served by one polling place.