By Julie Levy ~ Posted Tue, 11/04/2008 - 12:01pm
In my opinion, elementary and middle schools should not be used as polling places.
In doing a little research about how various states and communities across the United States select and use polling places, I found a potpourri of locations, from VFWs to grocery stores and everything in between. I read with interest that Henrietta, NY, recently moved their polling places out of their schools, stating: "Although the District has been very accommodating for many years, having thousands of voters coming into the elementary schools during the school day has created a number of logistical problems, especially in recent years when there has been an increased focus nationwide on school safety."
While many citizens feel that because their tax dollars fund schools, schools should be used for voting, I feel that the problems and risks outweigh the benefits of voting in a school setting. Parking, traffic, trying to contain voters into one area within the school, having enough space and continuing to conduct a "normal" school day all play a part in the challenges of voting at a school. Elementaries in particular are challenging because large common spaces that would be used to register voters and to set up voting machines are often used for gym class and/or lunch causing a major shift in the daily routine for students. The deciding factor for me in my belief of not using schools as polling places is safety- adults entering and exiting the school throughout the day plus the increase of foot and vehicle traffic present risks that are avoidable by voting elsewhere.
Our communities have numerous other settings that are accessible and appropriate for voting. Schools do not need to be polling places, particularly for major elections. What are your thoughts on polling places?