Guest column: Election day safety considerations

Lee’s note: Here’s some great election day advice from Peter Burlingame, AKA VIGunfighter,  president of the Self Defense Initiative on St. Thomas. Peter’s work is highly recommended. You can access his You Tube Channel here.

by Peter Burlingame

I use the Rules for Staying Out of Trouble as part of my risk assessment. (Don’t do stupid things, Don’t go stupid places, Don’t hang out with stupid people) Sometimes, due to circumstances or choice, I find that I am going to a stupid place or doing a stupid thing. The Rules help me realize the elevated risk and remind me to take the appropriate measures. (Work might require me to go to a dangerous neighborhood. I might want to attend a speech by a controversial figure. While not literally ‘stupid’, they represent an elevated risk and the ‘smart’ or ‘safe’ thing would be to avoid those situations.)

The way things are shaping up, voting on Tuesday may fall into the “don’t go stupid places’ rule. Knowing that, and believing that I should cast my ballot regardless of the elevated risk, I thought about what steps I could take. Which resulted in me writing this piece. I thought you might find it worth sharing:

Whichever way Tuesday’s election results go, a large segment of our very polarized population is going to be very unhappy. A huge number of voters believe that the electoral process has been compromised and if their candidate loses, they will consider it to be a result of cheating. They will feel that the  election has been stolen.

With people wound up, angry, and frustrated, it won’t take much for violence to erupt. If there are crowds involved then mob mentality takes over and all bets are off.

In addition to the above, the FBI has issued a warning of possible terror attacks on or before election day.
My recommendations:

– Vote early if at all possible. Don’t wait until Tuesday

– Be the ‘Grey Man’. Wear non descript clothes, avoid red, and skip wearing clothing that has messaging that others might find offensive.
-If you must vote on Tuesday, go during an ‘off’ time when fewer people will be there. Get in, vote, and get out. Don’t engage with anyone. Avoid reporters or anyone else that will slow or impede your exit. Talking with a reporter could open you to confrontation if people nearby hear your comments and take exception to them.

– Avoid all polling places on Tuesday, especially later in the day when results are coming in. Do you know if there are any polling stations on your route to/from work? School? Grocery?

– Keep a local news station on the radio as you drive around to alert you to developing problems or areas to avoid.

– Gas up your car. Be alert to what’s ahead as you drive. Stick to outside lanes and when you stop in traffic stay far enough back from the car in front of you that you can see his rear tires. That leaves you enough room to pull out.

– Be prepared to stay home Wednesday in the event of large scale social unrest in your area.

– You shouldn’t need to be told to go about your day armed. That should be a given on any day

– Listen to your inner voice/sixth sense. Trust it. Don’t ignore it. And pay attention to the vibe of any group or crowd in your area.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Unfortunately we have a double whammy here in South Carolina.
    Unlike some States where one can carry when voting, that is a no-no here.
    Most polling places are located in a school auditorium. Gun Free Zone.
    And polling places NOT in a school are ALSO a Gun Free Zone.
    Applies to Concealed Carry Permit holders. (ME)
    Section 23-31-215 (M) (3) polling place on election days;
    Section 23-31-215 (M) (5) school or college athletic event not related to firearms;
    So I must leave it at home.
    Of course this does not apply to the Bad Guys.

  2. This is America. All over the world our country has led the way in peaceful and orderly transition of government leadership. Our military doesn’t get involved – no coups here. We are civilized. This election has turned into a test of the American way. As a patriot, I do not want to see our country put on an election that follows the type that occur in third world countries. We are America – when we end up with leaders we didn’t vote for (that seems to happen to me a lot), we grit our teeth, hunker down and do all that our laws and Constitution allow to build up our chosen leaders to do better next time. Both parties have followed this civilized behavior for years.

    Guns at polling places???! Does this mean that the guy with the biggest gun will tell people how to vote?

    I repeat, this is America.

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