Does voting at public schools pose an increased security threat? Two local lawmakers do not want to take any risks.
State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef of Ossining and state Sen. David Carlucci, who represents parts of Westchester and Rockland counties, held a news conference on April 30 promoting their joint polling-free schools legislation (Assembly Bill 4743 and Senate Bill 5287).
Their legislation would give school districts the authority to decline the designation of their buildings as polling locations by allowing school budget and election votes, at local discretion, to be held in non-school district facilities.
In recent years the safety concern has been growing in regards to public school buildings being utilized as polling sites. When school buildings are used for this purpose, administrators are unable to track those accessing their facilities, putting students and faculty at risk, according to the state lawmakers. This has caused district leaders and administrators to voice their concerns over unfettered access, citing worries that the safety of their schools is compromised and the academic schedule disrupted.
"For decades we have not had to worry about shooters entering our schools and killing students, teachers and administrators," Galef said. "However, over the past years, this has changed and tragedies have occurred far too often in our schools. We've asked our schools to secure their buildings, but on election days we abandon those policies. This bill offers protection and security to our school communities by promoting alternative locations for voters."
Carlucci said, "Assemblywoman Galef and I look forward to passing this legislation and adding it to the long list of historic voting reforms already signed into law. . . .This legislation gives our school districts more flexibility in order to best serve our community, once early voting is implemented and during special elections."