Ruiz Introduces Legislation to Tackle Armed Voter Intimidation

July 29, 2021
Press Release
The Vote Without Fear Act will address rising extremism, protect access to the voting booth.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressmen Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) announced the introduction of H.R. 4722, the Vote Without Fear Act, to prevent armed intimidation at the voting booth. During the 2020 general election, there were numerous reports of individuals bringing firearms to federal election sites with the apparent purpose of intimidation. Following the election, states like Arizona saw armed groups arrive at ballot counting locations protesting to overturn the outcome of the election. The Vote Without Fear Act would halt dangerous voter intimidation practices by prohibiting the possession of a firearm within 100 yards of a federal election site, defined as a polling place or a ballot counting location.  

As the January 6th Select Committee begins its investigation into the root causes of the assault on the Capitol, Ruiz introduced H.R. 4722 to uphold the integrity of the democratic process and help ensure the safety of voters and election officials from Election Day through the end of the ballot counting process.  

“In recent federal elections, we have seen an alarming rise in armed intimidation at the voting booth,” said Rep. Ruiz. “Every American should be able to exercise their fundamental right to vote without intimidation or fear for their personal safety. My bill, the Vote Without Fear Act, will help protect this sacred right by keeping our polling places free from the threat of armed intimidation. With my legislation, we will safeguard the integrity of our democratic process and ensure the safety of all Americans on Election Day.” 

“ADL is deeply concerned about violent intimidation at election sites undermining the fundamental right to vote,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League). “Every voter must be able to safely cast their ballot without fear of intimidation. We are grateful for Rep. Ruiz’s leadership on the Vote Without Fear Act, a crucial step in curbing extremism and securing democracy and equality for all Americans.” 

“Armed intimidation at the polls is voter suppression - there is no place for and no need for armed intimidation in our democratic processes,” said Brady President Kris Brown. “This tactic has been deployed to suppress participation in our democracy and frighten voters, often and historically voters of color. Brady thanks Rep. Ruiz for introducing and championing this common-sense policy that will keep voters safe and help ensure our polling places are safe and welcoming to all.” 

“As our intelligence agencies warn of the increasing threat of armed extremists, we must take steps to ensure that all Americans can exercise the franchise free of intimidation,” said Guns Down America Executive Director Igor Volsky. “Firearms simply have no place at the polling booth in a healthy and functioning democracy.”  

“Americans being able to vote freely and of their own conscience is the bedrock of our democracy,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Armed intimidation at the polls is a Jim Crow-style voter suppression tactic for which we should have no tolerance. We thank Congressman Ruiz for introducing the Vote Without Fear Act, leading on this critical issue, and protecting voters — and our democracy— from violent extremists who wish to do them harm.” 

BACKGROUND 

H.R. 4722 includes common-sense exemptions for on-duty law enforcement officers or hired security guards at federal election sites. The legislation also includes protections for lawfully owned firearms located legally in vehicles or houses located within 100 yards of a federal election site. 

The Vote Without Fear Act is endorsed by ten organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, UnidosUS, Brady United, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, Giffords, Guns Down America, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Newtown Action Alliance, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, Stop Handgun Violence, and the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown University Law Center.  

For more on the Vote Without Fear Act, click here or here.