HOUSTON - One Republican Precinct Chair is trying to get voters to cast their Election Day ballots at a gun store. However, Harris County election officials have denied his request saying the proposal breaks Texas law.
While some might find voting in the premises of hundreds of guns uncomfortable, Mike Holsey thinks differently. He sees a spacious building with ample parking space.
As the Harris County Republican Chair for Precinct 312, Holsey’s applied for the Collectors Firearms store on Westheimer and South Voss to serve as an election polling location. Holsey, was told no.
"It’s ADA compliant," he said. "You can drive right up to the front door. You can walk right in. It would be a perfect location. It’s got 500 parking spaces."
Holsey says his precinct stretches from Voss to Fondren to Westheimer and the Bayou. In that block, he says there’s no fire station, police station, community center or church to hold elections.
"I mean this would be the safest place in the state to hold an election," Holsey said. "We would be separate from the gun store, and they would put up tables and barricades. It’s just that people know where this location is."
"They’re letting voting locations be at a gay bar down in Montrose, the Harris County Jail, so why can’t we have a voting location here? I’m claiming discrimination from the voting administrator that I’m conservative, I’m old, and I’m white," Holsey continued.
In a statement, Harris County Elections Administrator Clifford Tatum said, "We spoke with the County Attorney’s office when the gun store was originally proposed. After reviewing the Texas Penal Code, we had to recommend against it to the political party that originally nominated the location.
According to TEX. PENAL CODE § 46.03(a)(2).2 "A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm on the premises of a polling place on the day of an election or while early voting is in progress."
We also note Election Advisory No. 2018-29 issued by Director of Elections Keith Ingram of the Secretary of State’s Office, which includes an Opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton. (Section 46.03(a) of the Texas Penal Code generally prohibits a person from bringing a firearm onto the premises of a polling place, except for a peace officer, regardless of whether the peace officer is on or off duty. There are other exceptions listed. See Tex. Pen. Code § 46.15.)
Since the facility regularly operates as a gun store, there is the likelihood that a registered voter or a store customer could come to the facility with a firearm in their possession, whether the facility is open or not to the public on Election Day, thus subjecting themselves or others to a criminal violation of Texas Law. After presenting the above information to the political party, the proposal for this location was not pushed any further."