FILE - In this April 15, 2020, file photo protesters carry rifles near the steps of the Michigan State Capitol building in…
FILE - In this April 15, 2020, photo protesters carry rifles near the steps of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

DETROIT - The Michigan appeals court on Thursday rejected an appeal from a Democratic state official who wants to ban the open carrying of guns outside polling places.

The court, in a 3-0 order, declined to hear the case but noted that it's already illegal to intimidate voters or aggressively wave a gun in public.

"Anyone who intimidates a voter in Michigan by brandishing a firearm or, for that matter, by threatening with a knife, baseball bat, fist, or otherwise menacing behavior, is committing a felony under existing law," the court said.

The three-judge panel included Brock Swartzle, who is a candidate for the state Supreme Court.

The order came two days after a judge said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had exceeded her authority in prohibiting the open carrying of guns within 100 feet of a polling place.

Formal process

Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray said the policy didn't go through a formal rule-making process required under Michigan law.

Benson, the state's chief election officer, acted after federal authorities on October 8 said they broke up a scheme by anti-government paramilitary groups to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. But some county sheriffs said they wouldn't enforce the order, and the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police also had panned it.

FILE - In this June 4, 2019, file photo, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel listens to a question from reporters in Detroit.

Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said she'll now ask the Supreme Court to take the case. Her office pointed to a weekend poll by The Detroit News that found 73% supported a gun ban.

Attorneys defending Benson said the secretary of state has discretion to set certain rules related to elections. They quoted voters as saying they would be discouraged from casting a ballot if they saw someone with a gun near a polling place. Some don't trust the absentee ballot option.

"While the presence of firearms might comfort some, that same presence instills discomfort and even fear in others," Assistant Attorney General Ann Sherman said in a court filing.

Steve Dulan, an attorney for the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, said the group's members were upset with the "demonization" of gun owners through Benson's order.

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.