As Mike and Lonna noted, each of us have had less than pleasant encounters with school principals regarding polling places in schools and I have blogged about this before. In one of our many polling place observations in Southern California, Mike watched with some amusement when an elementary school principal expressed anger when I took a picture of an election sign at her school.; she didn’t like adults with cameras on her property, and for good reason.
Let me note a couple of other reasons schools are terrible polling places, other than the security of students.
- They have lousy parking. Schools are not designed with excess parking capacity, especially schools in populated areas. Schools have parking for teachers and some high schools have student parking but they aren’t meant for having hundreds of people park there.
- Rush hour for schools is rush hour for voting. The busiest time for schools is when they open — typically between 7-8:30, which are also peak morning voting times. The crush of people coming to vote and parents or buses dropping off kids can be quite chaotic.
- Where to put the polls in a school? There often aren’t good places for the polls in a school. Schools can be noisy places before classes, during lunch, and after classes. Putting to polls near gathering places is a problem for this reason. Putting them away from the immediate entrance puts voters too far into the building for security purposes. And the polls need to be near the disability accessible entrance and this too can be a challenge.
The easy answer is to make election day a holiday and schools would not be open in the first place. THEN, they would be great polling locations.