Voters in the School? That’s Not Safe!

Hi hezfhrbdtn
Folks! Love this column, which ran in The Post-Star in Glens Falls, NY. I think you’ll see why. – L.

Reading, Writing and Looming Fears by Ken Tingley

The Warrensburg Central School District is saving its children from the clutches of voters.

Swear to God.

Its board of education voted unanimously against a county proposal to use one of the school’s facilities for the April 24 presidential primary.

The reason? Too dangerous.

You would have thought the new voting machines contained plutonium. Or all Warrensburg voters are packing heat. Or perhaps there is concern over some insidious political agenda that might pollute impressionable minds.

The school board members believe that opening the school to voters will put the student body at risk. Of the seven members on the school board, not one even cleared their throat to say this is all just a bit silly.

Voting at local schools and firehouses is a tradition that goes back generations. I can’t remember the last time I did not vote in a school. And the greatest calamity I can ever recall was complaints over long lines in Lake Luzerne one year.

Oddly, Warren County’s Republican Commissioner Mary Beth Casey said she understood the board’s concern.

Hopefully, she was just being politically correct in hopes they would come to their senses because what she should have said was, “Seriously?”

The culture of fear that has taken root in our communities is epidemic.

We see shadows at high noon and dangers lurking around every swing set. And now, in voting booths.

We are all privy to horrible crimes that happen around the country and it is in everyone’s best interest to be prudent, especially when it comes to young children, but hopefully, without being ridiculous.

In this case in Warrensburg, school officials had previously moved the voting from the gymnasium to a supplemental recreation room away from the student population.

Polling places are generally busy places, crawling with volunteers. And the paranoia regarding school security is at such a heightened state, parents can’t drop off their kid’s lunch without being patted down in the foyer.

Years ago, I took my young son to the school playground during a school day. I was immediately informed that it was against the rules for me to be there during school hours.

My 4-year-old and I were a security risk.

Only time I’ve ever been kicked off the swing set.

Such is the concern in Warrensburg, where danger lurks, and it is no longer safe to invite citizens to the elementary school.

Ken Tingley is the editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at You can read his blog “The Front Page” daily at or his updates on Twitter

NOTE: Tingley tells me that now the board has voted to let the election take place at the school. Somehow (maybe thanks to this column?) sanity reigns! – L

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65 Responses to Voters in the School? That’s Not Safe!

  1. Juliet@CreativeSTAR February 15, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    Shame! Here in Scotland we close schools if they are used as polling (voting) stations. I think that’s just been tradition.

  2. Donna February 15, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    Has there been an epidemic in Warrenton of people going to the polls and taking home random children?

    Republican or democrat, this is what bothers me most about government – the need to fix problems that don’t exist while ignoring those that do. While we can debate certain issues, I would say that the fact that there has likely NEVER been an abduction, molestation or other questionable behavior during voting pretty much defines this as a non-problem. Maybe this is the one perfect school district in the US, but it likely has actual problems that need to be addressed. But instead the county will spend thousands of dollars setting up and notifying everyone about the new polling places.

  3. Allison February 15, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    Our schools are closed on all election days no matter how big or small. I’m sure part of it is the *perceived* security risk but to an extent there are parking/safety issues at hand. Many of the elementary schools in our district are land-locked and have limited parking to begin with. Add a drop-off line (magnet school from all over the county so most kids aren’t close enough to walk, nor are they eligible for bus service) and a few busses and you have complete chaos. No room for voters to park without blocking school traffic.

    What about registered sex offender laws who haven’t lost voting rights? If schools were open on election days and they aren’t permitted near children – how would they vote?

  4. Donna February 15, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    I do, however, agree with kicking the guy off the playground. Not for safety reasons, but because the kids who attend the school have a right to the exclusive use during school hours. Older kids shouldn’t have to worry about being careful of toddlers and preschoolers during their few minutes of free play a day.

  5. Joe February 15, 2012 at 2:04 am #

    They’re afraid the voters will find the kids so cute they will just have to take one home with them!

    Seriously, I suspect that somebody really did get it in his/her head that some sex offender could come on campus to vote. (Considering how many places have residency restrictions that keep sex offenders so far away from schools they wouldn’t be voting there anyway, this is, at best, about as likely as lightning striking one of the little snowflakes.) Still, one can never be too careful…

    It might be instructive to find out what company is insuring the school district and what their reputation is for being chincy. Half the time these seemingly dumb decisions are made simply to prove every precaution was taken so the insurer can’t worm out of its obligation. If you want a really sane and free society, sooner or later you are going to have to seriously reform liability law in this country.

  6. EricS February 15, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    If they are going to use kids as an excuse, they should at least be honest about it. It’s NOT a “security risk”. It’s a LIABILITY issue. Just say, “we don’t want to get sued in case something happens to one of the students.” Don’t cover your ass by covering your ass. And how would it be even a “security risk”? Voting would be done AFTER school hours, when there are no children on the premises. Dummies. Literally. No common sense whatsoever.

  7. Uly February 15, 2012 at 2:05 am #

    We do that in NYC as well, Juliet.

    Allison, although I think it makes sense to have the voting in an area separate from where the kids are just to reduce the chaos and potential for, um, unruly excitement (some kids will do anything for a distraction), sex offenders, assuming they hadn’t been disenfranchised (5.3 million Americans have lost their right to vote due to being felons), could always vote by mail. That’s gotten easier nowadays.

  8. Uly February 15, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    Voting would be done AFTER school hours, when there are no children on the premises.

    Eric, is voting only allowed in the afternoon and evening where you live? I thought voting ran from morning to night all over the country, even in the primaries.

  9. pentamom February 15, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    Our local schools close for elections, as well. It just seems to make sense, for reasons given above — it’s noisy and disruptive (kids are easily distracted), you can’t use the gym for the whole day, there are parking and safety issues with the parking lot, and so forth.

    Fear of “strangers” in the school is a dumb reason, though.

    “Considering how many places have residency restrictions that keep sex offenders so far away from schools they wouldn’t be voting there anyway, this is, at best, about as likely as lightning striking one of the little snowflakes.”

    That’s an interesting conundrum. People are supposed to vote at their assigned polling places based on where they live — they can’t just vote anywhere just because they’re not allowed to go near a school.

    I guess in this case maybe people with this kind of restriction (assuming they haven’t lost their right to vote) have to vote absentee.

    Felons get their vote back after the end of their sentences, right? But sex offenders sometimes have restrictions for life even after they’ve served their time, including parole.

  10. Dave February 15, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    So let me get this right. There is a room full of volunteers from the neighborhood, maybe even parents, there is usually a police officer near by, we are displaying our patriotism and our concern for our country and setting a good example for our children in school and it is no longer aloud because of fear.

    Just a question. How many people again were kidnaped our assaulted at polling places in our history?

    How do these people earn the right to teach our children?

    I tell people all the time if you are afraid to walk around in the neighborhood where you live, if you hide behind locked doors and are fearful of the people you live around you should move. If these educators are fearful that something could happen at the polls they are in the wrong community. This is the most outrageous thing you have ever posted Lenore and that is saying a lot.

  11. Bronte February 15, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    Here in New Zealand our elections are always on a Saturday. Problem solved.

  12. pentamom February 15, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    FWIW, I’ve never seen an on-duty police officer at a polling place. Around here, we couldn’t possibly spare enough of them from their normal duties all day long just to hang around polling places.

  13. EricS February 15, 2012 at 3:41 am #

    @Uly: Some voting stations have a designated time. If it’s done at a school, it’s usually done after school hours. Churches and community centers start in the morning. However, I do remember back in the late 80s, early 90s, school gyms were closed off for the voting during school hours. Students got out earlier during voting day, as to not congest the after work voters. There were never any issues with the kids. No fears. When “fears” were far more substantiated than it is now.

  14. Heather P. February 15, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    Allison, you make a whole lot of sense. We have a lot of school districts around here that are “schools of choice” and open to anyone in the county. On an election day, drop-off and pick-up along with buses would be chaos. I think the kids get a day off.

    As to those who by law are not permitted around children, that’s a pretty good question. I wonder if they could go to the schools after hours, if the kids don’t have the day off?

    As far as kicking kids off the playground, while I see the point of students getting priority I don’t know that taxpayers should be forbidden even during school hours. I had my almost-4-year-old evaluated for speech at our local district and the rest of my homeschooled crowd (4 of them at the time, age 9 to almost 2) played on the playground. I did tell them that they were guests and should behave as such. If an adult questioned them, they should give respectful and honest answers about why they were there.
    They got to encounter a 3rd grade teacher who wouldn’t let her students even *sit* on the merry-go-round, which they found “simply infuriating.” They obeyed until she and her class went back inside.
    I could see them through the window where I was with the one being evaluated. There was no way we’d have a decent evaluation with the rest of them in the room.

  15. EricS February 15, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    @ Dave: It’s not about “fear” for the children. Its all about “fear” of getting sued. That’s what it’s all about for institutions like schools, community centers, city parks, etc… This day and age, too many people are opportunistic, and want to make that fast buck. What better way than a lawsuit. And IMO, these institutions don’t want to look petty, so they mask it with the growing trend…child “safety”, or more specifically, overprotection of children, because you just never know what can happen. Now they come off as “It’s not for us. It’s for the children”.

  16. Ann In L.A. February 15, 2012 at 3:53 am #

    Felons do not automatically get their voting rights restored. They have to petition the court for their restoration. Even if sex offenders could still vote absentee, you would think there would be both ballot access and equal protection arguments that they could use in court if they chose to sue over their right to vote in person.

    Every year there are actually complaints about police standing outside or sitting in squad cars near polling stations. US history has plenty of examples of police being used to enforce segregation and keep blacks from voting, and many now continue to view a police presence as a form of voter intimidation. In a lot of places police keep their distance.

  17. Brian February 15, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    Maybe it is so that voters cant see the children so they can blindly support crippling lower tax policies that destroy our future.

  18. pentamom February 15, 2012 at 4:32 am #

    “@Uly: Some voting stations have a designated time. If it’s done at a school, it’s usually done after school hours.”

    Except in states that have caucuses instead of primaries, I have never heard of polls not being open 10-12 hours on election day. Restricted hours would put those areas at a definite disadvantage, or else favor national or statewide candidates whose exit polling data came in early.

    If you’re right about this being the case for you locally, I’m pretty sure it’s quite unusual on the national scale.

  19. Lollipoplover February 15, 2012 at 4:48 am #

    Our school district recently stopped doing open blood drives during school hours for safety reasons. Perhaps they fear vampires?

  20. Marie February 15, 2012 at 4:59 am #

    Schools in my area often don’t have gyms, just a multipurpose room which is also the school cafeteria, so if voting happens at a school, the school is closed for the day. I think they use it as a teacher development day. It’s too much to lose that much of the cafeteria, and most of the local schools have miserably small parking lots.

    On the plus side, it makes it easy to haul the kids along for voting if they have the day off. Good way to show them a bit of the process without being in a rush due to homework, dinner, etc.

  21. Lisa Stice (@granolacatholic) February 15, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    This is ridiculous, I find it so especially because our School just became approved as a poling place. We are a small school district and when we had a school bond issue voters went to about 3 different poling places, often not convenient, voter turn out was low. I predict our primary will be well attended as parents will be able to vote while dropping kids off.

  22. Heather G February 15, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    The thing about living in the Land of the 55+ Mobile Home Park is that I’ve never lived seen voting in schools. However every big, age restricted mobile home park is a polling place. I could see the disruption to school argument if they hadn’t already dealt with that my moving the voting to a supplemental area away from students. I could see the sex offender reasoning *if* the voting district is so large geographically that one could live within a district without being within the restricted distance from the school. Again, that doesn’t apply in my area.

    My concern with the move is what it stops teaching the kids. My mother took me with her to vote because I needed to know that exercising this right was important. We talked before the elections about the issues, the candidates and the voting process. She voted in every election. Because I was taught the value of the process I have voted in every election since my 18th birthday. Now I take my kids with me. I was lucky that her job allowed her flexibility with hours that she could include me. Many children aren’t so lucky. Those kids my only experience the election process through student government and what they see the community do at their schools. What (admittedly small) message does it send to have voting, previously done at their school, taken away?

  23. Beth February 15, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    In my community, “they” are talking about running background checks on the poll workers who are assigned to school polling places. Because they are going to be there ALL DAY, and it’s so easy and so common for a poll worker to just be able to dash off, grab a kid, and stash said kid somewhere until the polls close, or find a secluded place in a school, on voting day, at which to molest the child.

    When this story came out, most of the commenters thought this was just great, and yes, vitally necessary for the safety of our children. I asked them all for even just one link to a news item about a child being molested or kidnapped by a poll worker in a school, but amazingly I got no response.

  24. Monica February 15, 2012 at 5:42 am #

    I became interested in voting BECAUSE I saw it at my school. Oh, and I was never abused in any way. 🙂

  25. B.C. Cakes February 15, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    That happened at my kids’ school about 4 or 5 years ago. Despite there being plenty of parental volunteers to chaperone each entrance to the school (because EVERY entrance needed to be unlocked so no one could claim disenfranchisement) and there being plenty of parental volunteers to escort the 1 or 2 people who, for some reason, chose to enter somewhere OTHER than the main entrance, and despite that the school had been a voting location since the school had opened, like, 80 years ago…ONE parent voiced concern and BAM….the voting location ended up being moved.

  26. Cyn February 15, 2012 at 6:02 am #

    Our district in Virginia always allowed voting in the schools… but they always cancelled classes for the day to “protect” the students. I always found that completely ridiculous.

  27. LauraL February 15, 2012 at 6:03 am #

    Way to teach about free elections. :-/

  28. Kimberly Herbert February 15, 2012 at 7:49 am #

    The 3rd biggest security risk Texas election people scheduled the primary the same day as a TAKS test. By law we are pretty much in lock down during state testing. No visitors on campus, reduce or eliminate “traffic” through areas there is testing. The reason is to have a quiet atmosphere for the students. So they had to move the polling places that year. At my school the polling area is right next to some rooms used for small group/individual testing. These are kids that have trouble concentrating – so we have to keep that area quiet.

    2nd biggest security risk – we had was an actual violation of election law. A student walking by the polling area shouted “VOTE (candidate) for President.

    Now teachers remind students they can not talk in the voting area.

    Biggest security risk the election judges buy school lunches – what happens if they all get sick a the same time. (I can not eat that food without being doubled over an hour or so later).

    The election judges at my school are great. They let me bring my class through if they aren’t busy and they show the kids how the machines work and give them stickers.

  29. Catheirne Scott February 15, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    Social psychological fact of the day, research-proven: In a group situation, like say a board or committee, the most person with the most extreme views will become the leader.

    That way madness lies in these days of general craziness.

  30. Candi Nelson February 15, 2012 at 9:24 am #

    It’s been about 4 years that our County (upstate NY) had to pull out of the schools. The schools lock the doors during the day-no one allowed to enter without ringing a bell & someone from office opening the door and escorting you in. This made having elections in the schools impossible. So now we have to be in churches, community center, etc. I’ve been an election inspector for 33 years & we never had a security problem in the schools. People have become very paranoid- not sure it’s healthy to be that paranoid.

  31. Cherilyn Michener Reno February 15, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    When I was a kid in MI, elections were often held in the schools, but Election Day was a school holiday for the elementary/middle school kids whose school gymnasiums were used. The same where we lived in MD for 18 of the last 20 years. I was actually surprised when we moved to MA and they hold elections in the schools but don’t give the kids a holiday.

    The reasons I’d always heard for having the school closed during voting were parking availability and traffic safety, though, not ‘stranger danger’.

  32. Kimberly Herbert February 15, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Candi I sorry that happened to you. I think having polling places in churches is wrong. At least schools are neutral. Our lobby is stripped of all learning materials before polling takes place.

    When I had to vote in a church, the area we were voting in was NOT neutral. While there wasn’t active electioneering, there was church literature advocating certain positions on political issues. (We need prayer in school, teach bible as science type stuff)

  33. Donna February 15, 2012 at 9:54 am #

    “As far as kicking kids off the playground, while I see the point of students getting priority I don’t know that taxpayers should be forbidden even during school hours.”

    Under that theory, all government entities would need to be open to the taxpaying public 24/7 in full. However, all government offices, schools and many public parks have hours of operation. Many government entities allow no taxpayer use ever. You can’t go play on a playground on a military base because you are a tax payer. There is no difference in school playgrounds being allowed to dedicate their use solely to the students of the school during school hours.

  34. namastemama February 15, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    Just another lesson in civics that these kids won’t learn firsthand. Another missed opportunity by the public school system. I bet the school would also have a fit if a child was absent for going with a parent to see how the voting process worked.

  35. TaraK February 15, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    When I was little we had elections on the stage in the gym at our elementary school. No threats that I know of, but “times were different then”. (Tongue in cheek font.)

    On another note, a friend of mine told me today that a teacher in her son’s school recommended that she buy him a new backpack because his name was embroidered on the top. I jumped all over that one and told her that the liklihood of her and all her children getting killed in a car crash on the way home was higher than her son getting kidnapped because his name was on his backpack. She has the same common sense and agreed that the teacher was a little over the top (and noted that the teacher was one her son had two years ago…he’s still using the same backpack!)

  36. Metanoia February 15, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Our voting is done at a school gym or other large community building but it has also always been done on a weekend. Why is voting done during a weekday there? Surely it is hard for the majority of workers to vote if it is done during school hours…?
    I also wouldn’t use a school playground during school hours because well… its school time. After school hours I still occasionally go use the swings (still… I’m almost 30… it’s fun!)

  37. This girl loves to talk February 15, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    hmm we only vote in australia On Saturdays so no kids are there. Infact schools, churches etc love to be polling places because this means they can raise money from all the people who come to vote. Many places do cake stalls, sausage sizzles, sell drinks etc to raise lots of money – Our school did it and the Premier (and media team!) for the state came to our school and everyone wanted photo ops!

  38. Donna February 15, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    @Metanoia – Voting is done from around 7am to 8pm. Most people can get in sometime during that 13 hour period if they choose. I think getting people to vote on the weekends would be more difficult. It is generally difficult to get people in the US ti do much official, non-fun and non-family on the weekends.

  39. Paul Gallipeo February 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Warrensburg is letting the election go forward in the high school, NOT the elementary school (which has been used for years) because the Board “worried opening up the facility could expose elementary students to outside threats.” (The Post-Star, February 14: B1)

  40. Candi Nelson February 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    What do you do with the sex offender who wants to vote & his polling site is in a school, where he should not go. I think he should vote absentee & there is no problem,. Others think he has a right to “vote on the machine”, which is one of the reasons polling sites were removed from schools. I don’t know about other cities/counties but this has been a big problem here even though it only effects a small number of people. Everyone else should be inconvenienced.

  41. Shaydin Eliot February 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Wasn’t sure how else to show you this article about a girl who had her lunch replaced by the school because her turkey sandwich wasn’t healthy enough…so posting the link here.

  42. Brian February 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    In madison, WI, the school district has asked the city to pay for background checks for all volunteers that work at any of the 27 polling places that are at schools.. Not the voters, but the volunteers.. (side note, have you ever seen a poll worker young enough to keep up with an 8 year old?)

    That could be several thousand people..

  43. Katrin Geisler, Frankfurt, Germany February 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    In Germany we always vote on a sunday, so it is no problem to use schools for that. By now I’ve always voted in schools, but we moved some months ago and our new polling location is in a retirement home. I hope the voters are not dangerous for the old people.

  44. J.T. Wenting February 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm #

    In the Netherlands pretty much every school is also a polling station, of course there are no “school boards” with the power to decide otherwise as the schools are government run 🙁 🙂 and/or receive so much of their funding from the government they’d best stay in line or else.

    Then again weapons restrictions here are such that no one has a weapon except criminals, so the country is entirely safe… cough, cough…

    Haven’t heard of a single incident where anyone got hurt on election day because there were polling stations in schools for as long as I’ve been aware of the news, which is well over 30 years now, and it would certainly have been all over the news nationwide if anything had happened whatsoever.

    I think the real reason is indeed as mentioned: don’t want to expose the kids to Republicans voting in their primaries as they’d see those Republicans are normal people just like mom and dad (in fact, chances are good mom and dad are some of those Republicans) and not the unwashed, feral, heavily armed, mentally ill, slivering maniacs they’re being made out to be by the school board.

  45. Kenny Felder February 15, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    I read through the whole column thinking I was reading Lenore. I did a double-take when I realized this was a column written by someone else.

    Ken Tingley, believe me, that is a huge compliment. Lenore is a voice of common sense and a darn good writer too. If we had fifty columnists who sounded a lot like her, we might make some progress toward sanity, or at least slow down the rush to insanity.

  46. gap.runner February 15, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    @Kenny Felder, I also thought the same thing about who wrote the column. I also second everything you said in your second paragraph.

  47. Patrick February 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    I teach in Southern Ontario (Canada) and every time there is an election (municipal, provincial or federal) the school I have been in has been a polling station. Over the last 15 years, I have seen the “fear” take over the educators in the building. This over-whelming fear that these children are at-risk because strangers are walking into the building. Funny….the people who work in the school are rarely residents of the neighbourhood while the voters who come to the polling station are neighbours…local people, many of whom will be family members of the students we feel are at-risk.

  48. Selby February 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

    Ooh! We must shield the children from CHAOS!!! Our civic right and duty to vote must NOT interfere with the SUV-driving hoverparents delivering and collecting their sacred progeny from the institution where danger abounds at every turn.

    Wonderful “teachable” moments this school is picking. Not only the senseless and non-existent stranger-danger (as Patrick pointed out, hello, citizens of the COMMUNITY come to the school to vote) but also showing the kids that they are incapable of dealing with any kind of change, chaos, break in the routine because it is just far too dangerous. Give me a break. This is just stupid on all levels.

  49. Sarah February 15, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Voting was moved out of my local school a two election cycles ago. (There was no community discussion, to my knowledge, just a postcard in the mail with our new polling place.) Now we have to go to a park district facility which is farther away, has terrible parking, and is a maze inside. Surprise, surprise, turnout has fallen…

    Of course, this is the same school which felt that my husband and toddler sitting under a tree just over the school property line called for 2 security guards and checking his sex offender status (negative), so I suppose it makes “sense”.

    On the years we voted at the school, I never actually saw a student, because we were all at one end of the building in the gym and the students were kept away from that part of the building. I did see other voters, though, which is more than I have since the site change.

  50. Uly February 15, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    showing the kids that they are incapable of dealing with any kind of change, chaos, break in the routine because it is just far too dangerous.

    It’s not dangerous, but it’s probably annoying to the teachers, who have less and less free space in their schedules for teachable moments as it is.

  51. Leonard Ewy February 15, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    I grew up in a sparsely populated rural area and went to 2-room elementary school. The school was used as the polling place and our teachers used this as an opportunity to teach us about democracy in action. It was inspiring for me as a child to see how people who had experienced a world war and a great depression relished their right to vote. That has stayed with me my whole life.

  52. CrazyCatLady February 15, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    Where I am (WA) all voting is done via mail. You can drop off at the election office if you want to save a stamp.

    I find it very annoying. I WANT my kids to see me vote. I want them to get the stickers. Voting via mail doesn’t cut it. Where we used to live they sometimes had “kid votes” where they had kids fill out ballots on the same issues as the adults. My kids, pretty young at the time, felt very important doing that. The results of the election as well as the kid’s voting were reported in the paper.

    I have not seen studies yet, but I suspect that many people do not return their ballots because they wait to hear the debates about the topics at hand and then lose the ballots or can’t remember when the election day is. Yesterday was an election day for a school levy initiative, according to the paper today for many counties around me. Yet I heard nothing on the news or radio about it or reminding people to vote.

  53. View Point February 15, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    Voting in the schools is a perfect teaching and learning experience that communities are throwing away.

    Good principals and teachers would request that voters be allowed to visit classrooms to talk about a citizen’s right and obligation to vote. The interaction and questions and answers could fuel an entire day of discussion.

    Of course these days schools seem to be only about money, test scores, and how can we keep people from suing us. Forget teaching students useful and helpful information and life skills.

  54. Heather February 16, 2012 at 1:24 am #

    There are a lot of angry tea party voters around here that I would like to keep my young children from having too much contact with.

  55. Ann In L.A. February 16, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    I hate all-by-mail elections. Until you can guarantee that abused partners are not having their vote cast by their abuser (or kids away at college by the parents, or uninterested “voters” by someone more interested, etc.), voting by mail should be limited to actual absentee voters.

    Also, the first few elections or two, people are probably very responsible, but over time, I think it could easily become just one more piece of junk mail people don’t take seriously.

  56. Library Diva February 16, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    If you guys were familiar with this region, you would think the story is even sillier. This is not a large, urban area, nor is it a sprawly suburb. It’s at the entrance to the Adirondack Park and, according to ePodunk, has a population of approximately 4,000 people.

    My fiance grew up in the region, not in Warrensburg itself, but a few towns over. It’s a very nice part of New York State, about an hour north of Albany, several hours away from New York City, and just south of the Adirondack Park. It’s semi-rural and attracts skiiers in the winter, and laid-back nature-y tourists in the summer. Sure, bad things happen there, just like they do everywhere, but it’s hardly a bastion of crime and perversion. The people who have sex offenders voting in the school at the top of their list of concerns are much more likely to be motivated by something they saw on CNN or CSI than by a recent local event.

    New York State passed a 2% property tax cap while slashing state aid to schools. Many districts out where I live are laying off teachers and eliminating programs, and I know of one that’s concerned about their long-term ability to remain in existence at all. I can’t imagine things are so much different at the other end of the state that the school board should be worried about this piece of ridiculousness.

  57. Renee February 16, 2012 at 2:34 am #

    There is a police officer at all polling places where I live, but not for the children’s safety. It is to ensure no one is campaigning within the polling place and staying 300 feet away with signs.

    It is at a school during school hours and the PTO always has a bake sale, right outside the polling place. High school students are actually encouraged to become election workers handling the ballots.

    So sad… what do the children learn about civic duty, if we teach them voting isn’t safe?

  58. hineata February 16, 2012 at 2:37 am #

    Like the posters above from Germany and Australia, all our voting is done on the weekend.

    Is there a particular reason why the U.S. has to have voting during the week? It’s just that, obviously, it would stop nonsense from school boards if kids weren’t actually meant to be on site at the time.

    Maybe they’re actually more worried about cooped-up kids attempting to escape with the nearest nice-looking grandma type who turns up to vote….and don’t want to put temptation in the kids’ way 🙂

  59. K February 16, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    In our part of the Commonwealth – the schools are always closed for elections. As long as any schools are used for polling places, they must be closed. Otherwise, any individuals on the Sexual Predator list (for whatever, usually inane reason) would be not allowed to vote due to the proximity to children.

  60. mbm February 16, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    The gym of my elementary school (a church-affiliated one, FWIW) was a polling place. We attended school like normal, except without gym class that day, and were not affected in the least. They might have locked the doors between the gym and school to keep us from bothering the voters.

    Now that I think about it, I have always voted at schools (except for two years when I lived in a weird voting district that was only two blocks square, and we all voted in someone’s garage) and I have never seen a student.

  61. BMS February 16, 2012 at 5:25 am #

    @hineata: I think the reason we vote on a Tuesday comes down to stupid tradition, honestly. I always wondered that myself. Tuesdays SUCK. I have to leave for work at 6:30 am, I don’t get back until 5:30, and the lines are then out the freaking door (unless I flake and forget because it’s been a long day and I’m exhausted). Put it on a Saturday and I’d vote early and often! (Sorry, I’m from Chicago… 🙂 )

  62. Matt Wall February 16, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    There was always voting in my schools when I was growing up, and it was a regular reminder about exactly how government (and part of the process of paying for said schools) worked. In high school various student organizations had bake sales near the polling places, a nice dovetailing of civic interests. And the BEST part: NO GYM ON ELECTION DAY!

    I don’t recall anyone ever being abducted and murdered by a voter, but maybe it just slipped my mind.

  63. kiesha February 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    According to

    “Why on Tuesday?
    In 1845, and for many years after that, only the county seats had a polling places. For many voters, this meant at least an overnight trip on horseback or buggy. If the election were held on Monday, people would have to leave on Sunday, which in 1845, was reserved for church.”

    Couldn’t have the election on the weekend because you wouldn’t be able to go to church.

    Also, many employers give employees at least two hours during the day to go cast their vote if they need the extra time.

  64. Uly February 17, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    Also, many employers give employees at least two hours during the day to go cast their vote if they need the extra time.

    in many states that is, in fact, the law that you be allowed to come in up to two hours late OR leave up to two hours early to vote.

  65. Teri February 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    We used to vote at the school. Then, they started making the kids bring sack lunch and eat in their room on voting day. Then, they started giving the kids the days off and calling it a teacher in-service day. And, about two years ago, they decided no voting at the schools and now everybody is zoned for the fire department or city hall.