Polling places in schools cause ‘serious threat to safety,’ concerned LI officials say

LONG ISLAND — Schools across the country have beefed up security in the wake of recent shootings, but did you know school-safety protocols don’t apply on Election Day? Now concerned parents and administrators on Long Island are calling for polling places to be taken out of schools.

On a typical school day, anyone accessing the Manor Oaks-Williams R. Bowie School, where grades K-6 are taught, faces a slew of security protocols: Ringing a doorbell before being physically buzzed in; showing identification before entering the building; receiving a visitor badge; and being brought in to a secure vestibule before being let in the building.

None of these measures apply on Election Day — with the next one around the corner, on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

"There's always a serious threat to safety when we're using the polling sites, because anyone can walk in to the building without getting ID'd. We don't know who is in our buildings throughout the entire day," said Jennifer Morrison, superintendent of the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park Union Free School District

In addition to those voting, which may include convicted felons this year, poll workers — unlike school faculty — do not go through background checks and are not finger printed.

Now school administrators and parents want polling places to be moved out of schools.

"We're just asking that we don't throw our safety plans out the window for these days for polling," parent Catherine Canese said.

Other possible polling places may include firehouses, libraries and town halls, according to Morrison.

However, Todd D. Valentine, the executive director of New York State Board of Elections,  said in a statement: "If the Board of Elections were forced out of schools it would be a calamity for conducting elections."

For Manor Oaks-Williams R. Bowie School, Morrison was able to have polling taken out of the elementary school this year. The problem? It was moved to a nearby high school.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.