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Letters: Discord over schools as polling places

Voters head into Great Hollow Middle School in

Voters head into Great Hollow Middle School in Nesconset on Election Day 2017. Credit: James Carbone

My daughter is an art teacher in Suffolk County. After recent school shootings, we’ve talked about her safety and that of her students.

When schools are used for polling when classes are in session, voters enter throughout the day, increasing the concerns of teachers, students and parents [“Pushback over hosting elections,” News, Oct. 15].

A possible solution: Take Columbus Day off the holiday calendar and make Election Day a holiday to ensure school safety and provide an opportunity for more people to exercise their right to vote.

Linda DiPaola,Huntington

I’ve been a Suffolk County Board of Elections coordinator-inspector on primary and election days for more than 20 years. Our schools are the most viable polling places. Making schools inaccessible to voters is not the solution to preventing violence. School officials need to keep buildings safe by screening people via security at parking lot entrances to buildings.

As noted by one election official, districts hold budget and school board elections in schools without raising security issues.

Voting is your right as a U.S. citizen. Getting to the polls is often daunting for people who are disabled or lack private transportation, yet these are the same voters who make the greatest effort.

Eliminating schools that opt out is unacceptable and is another form of voter suppression.

Randal Wolfer,Huntington

While I agree with the premise of your Oct. 16 editorial, “Voting in schools: a time for reform,” I strongly disagree that voting should remain in schools.

The Garden City school district, where I served two terms as a trustee, has spent thousands of scarce dollars to improve the security of our buildings, but these measures are subverted on election days when anyone can enter polling spaces in the schools. Stringent measures are taken to isolate the polling locations, but in almost every election, there are instances when voters or poll workers enter other areas of the schools.

A determined individual with malicious intent could overcome our restrictions. There are many alternative locations that could be used instead of schools. Our children are a precious resource. We should not put them at risk so that citizens can exercise their right to vote.

Robert G. Martin, Garden City

As a former supervisor for the Nassau County Board of Elections, I read the push-back from schools on polling sites and shook my head. For years, I sat with principals who argued that having elections in “my school” disrupts the order of the day. This was long before the mass shootings in schools.

Close the schools when the buildings are needed for voting. If school officials are concerned about getting in the days for teaching, they could take a day from one of the seasonal breaks. Aren’t the lives of children worth that?

Thomas G. McCormick, St. James

Stop playing politics with our safety. Start checking IDs at polling places. The idea that such action will disenfranchise the poor is a hoax. Everyone can get some kind of photo ID. Those who don’t have photo ID should get it or don’t vote. Keep our children safe.

Kevin Lowry,Oceanside

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