JERICHO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – It’s an idea gaining traction in schools across New York State – moving polling places away from school buildings.
“We worry about anyone walking into the building… They can stay in the building, maybe wander the halls maybe afterward unnoticed… while we have great security in Jericho anyone who wants to do something bad can,” Long Island Tania Schwarzwald said.
Districts like Jericho and East Hampton have spent millions to upgrade security. They believe opening doors to the general public on Primary Day or Election Day erases that progress.
“You go through a security check, your license is scanned, background check is done before you are permitted to enter school on Election Day… anybody walks in,” superintendent of the Jericho School District Henry Grishman said.
Over the past five years, dozens of school districts have voiced concerns in Albany.
Board of elections in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties say districts may ask for the relocation of polling places and each request will be considered individually.
Voting commissioners say they need to balance the safety of school children with accessibility to voters.
“We potentially disenfranchise voters who don’t have adequate parking, polling locations not handicapped-accessible, locations themselves simply aren’t big enough to accommodate voters, which leads to very long wait times,” Suffolk Board of Elections Commissioner Nick Lalota argued.
Grishman suggests firehouses, libraries, churches, or synagogues in the community become the new polling sites.
For now schools say they will do their best to cordon off areas to keep voters contained and spend more dollars hiring extra security.
Parents and teachers are also pushing to make Election Day a state holiday in New York.