Election laws: What is and isn’t allowed on Election Day

By David Hollister

Plumas County District Attorney

As Election Day draws near, I am reminded how fortunate we are to live in a community which appreciates the importance of supporting our democracy and related Constitutional rights. In Plumas County, we can be confident in our election and the support of our fellow citizens in making sure we treat each other with dignity and respect. Though we each may be passionate in our support of a candidate or political party, we also appreciate, at our core, there is far more which unites us than divides us – not the least of which is our support for this great country.

As we follow news from around the state and country, we, unfortunately, sometimes see behavior truly foreign to the excellent standard we have grown to rely on in Plumas County. To help understand what conduct may elevate to being a crime (at least in California), here are some questions answered…


Can a person use force or threaten another in order to make them vote (or not vote)?

No. Using, or threatening to use, force, violence, coercion or intimidation to make another person vote or refrain from voting is a felony, punishable by up to three years in state prison (Elections Code Sec. 18540).

Within 100 feet of a polling place, can a person…

Solicit a vote or talk to someone about their vote?

Place a sign relating to voter qualifications or talk to someone about that voters qualifications?

Photograph or take a video of a person entering or leaving a polling place?

No. Any of these acts, if done with the intent of dissuading another from voting, can be punished as a misdemeanor or felony with a sentence of up to three years in state prison (Elections Code Sec. 18541)

Can a citizen arm himself/herself and stand guard within the immediate vicinity of a polling place?


No. Any person is possession of a firearm within the immediate vicinity, or posted at, a polling place is guilty of a felony punishable by up to three years in county jail. (Elections Code Sec. 18544)

Can an armed police officer or security guard stand watch within the immediate vicinity of a polling place?

No, unless the officer/guard has received written authorization from our Clerk-Recorder or the officer/guard is there to cast their vote, or the officer/guard is conducting official business, or the officer/guard has been hired by the Clerk-Recorder or the owner of property where the polling place is located. (Elections Code Sec. 18544)

Again, thank you all for your support in making our community safe and just, and our voting process fair, dignified and trustworthy.