NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As Election Day near nears, there are growing concerns about strangers on school campuses.
This comes after the city Board of Elections picked nine schools to be part of an early voting pilot program.
On Tuesday, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez visited Public School 116 in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan, where parents are upset to learn their school has been chosen as an early voting site.
Why are they upset? Well, they’re concerned about safety.
Parents said their main concern is public voters will be able to walk freely through the school cafeteria, the recess yard and the pre-k hallway to access the polling booths. Parents said they, themselves, don’t have that kind of free access to the school on a regular day. They’re furious no one gave them an opportunity to voice their concerns.
“Now we have to figure out how are all these people coming into our school,” parent Gilberte Lal said. “They’re going to be walking past our kids during lunch to get to the gym, and it’s for 10 days. The Board of Elections has said they are going to supply an armed guard. We don’t know who these people are.”
“Straight into our building without any extra security or checkpoints or metal detectors. It just shouldn’t happen at all,” Erica Rand Silverman said. “We shouldn’t have to bring in metal detectors or armed guards. The fact that we’re even talking about needing armed guards in our school to protect her children should be a red flag.”
Of the 61 early voting sites in the city, 33 are New York City public schools, including eight of the nine sites in Manhattan. Early voting locations will be open for 10 days leading up to Nov. 5, allowing public voters to enter the school while students are there and classes are in session. That’s an uncomfortable thought for parents when children at Public School 116 are as young as 4.
“You can’t walk into an airport. You can’t walk into so many public buildings without going through metal detectors or having checkpoints. But now we’re going to let anybody from the community into our school building,” Rand Silverman added.
“I’m very, very disappointed. I’m also a little angry, to be honest,” parent Priyanca Rao said. “There’s other options and this should not be an option.”
The Board of Elections told CBS2 that back in March it notified the Department of Education of the schools it chose for early voting sites and that it was the DOE’s responsibility to tell each school’s administrators.
“We were told on Oct. 5. They sent us an email to the principal who then forwarded it to us, that we were going to be selected as an early voting site, which was crazy because three weeks time? That’s no time to prepare,” Lal said.
Sanchez reached out to the Board of Elections and the DOE, but did not immediately hear back.
The Board of Elections said sites were chosen based on location, size and accessibility. More schools could be added as early voting sites for the general election next year.