Should students get the day off for Election Day?

October 27, 2016 06:47 PM

A new poll by the USA Today says 51 percent of likely voters expressed some concern about a chance of violence on Election Day. For years people have gone to schools to vote, but one local lawmaker is questioning whether this is safe.

There are more than 300 polling sites in Monroe County; 33 of them are in schools, 23 in the Rochester City School District alone.

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Mary Reiser has a second grade daughter that attends School 23. In less than two weeks, her daughter's school will become a hub for voters casting their ballots on Election Day.

Reiser says she sees how having voters and students under one roof during this year's contentious election could be concerning. But she trusts her daughter's school is prepared.

"I just trust that they will staff enough people and have enough volunteers on hand to make sure the people that are coming in to do their voting just stick to the polls and head right back out," she says.

The Rochester City School District is already taking steps to ensure the students safety. The district sent us a statement that reads in part "the district plans with school administrators and assigns safety personnel as needed to ensure the safety of students and staff during voting."

The district also works with the Monroe County Board of Elections to assign extra security. Senator Rich Funke supports a bill to keep polling places in schools, but give students and staff the day off.

"Schools represent some of the best polling places possible but there are concerns associated with that -- the safety concern is number one on the list," says state Senator Rich Funke. "School districts have people coming unfettered into their polling places day-in and day-out, all day long and some of them have concerns about that."

For Reiser, she hopes having a poll site in her daughter's school will teach her something about voting. "I think it's important for them to see the Democratic process in the works, so I like them in the schools and I would like to keep them in the schools."

Senator Funke's bill has not yet passed the two houses; he will re-introduce it in January.

We also made calls to area police departments to see what precautions they take on Election Day. Ogden police, Irondequoit police, and the Monroe County Sheriff's Office all told us they will pay special attention to schools that have polling places and remind officers to drive by those sites.


Brianna DiPilato

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