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Election Official Dismissed After Refusing Armed Officer His Right to Vote

Election Official Dismissed After Refusing Armed Officer His Right to Vote

Bangor Daily News

November 02, 2010

BANGOR, Maine — A city election official who refused to allow an armed, uniformed Bangor police officer to vote last week will not be working at the polls for the remainder of the 2010 elections.

Bangor City Clerk Patti Dubois, who is in charge of staffing the city’s lone polling place, the Bangor Civic Center, confirmed Monday that Wayne Mallar, a longtime election warden in Bangor, has been asked to stay home.

Dubois said she planned to contact the officer later Monday to apologize and ensure that he has another opportunity to vote.

Additional details associated with Mallar’s long-term status as an election official or the reasons behind his dismissal for the rest of this election cycle are considered a personnel matter, interim City Manager Bob Farrar said.


Wayne Mallar

The incident in question happened late Friday afternoon. Officer James Dearing, who was patrolling his assigned beat near the civic center, decided to stop in and cast an early vote. He walked into the polling place in full uniform with his firearm holstered and stood in a short line with other voters.

Mallar, an election warden, approached Dearing and requested that he turn over the weapon to another officer stationed at the polling place or he wouldn’t be allowed to vote.

Dearing refused, but Mallar stood his ground.

The officer said Sunday that he felt insulted but did not protest further. Bangor Police Chief Ron Gastia said Monday that his officer did the right thing.

“In speaking with the clerk’s office this morning, her position is that officers are certainly permitted at the polls, in uniform or out of uniform, armed or unarmed,” the chief said. “It’s been a history to allow police officers on duty to vote when it’s appropriate. The police department has always allowed officers to do that.”

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said he couldn’t remember an incident like this ever happening in Maine.

“I don’t know what [the warden] was thinking,” he said. “There is no reason why a uniformed officer under any circumstances should be questioned.”

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