Using Your School as a Polling Place
Vote for Student Safety During Elections
Because schools are found in nearly every city across the United States, they are often used as polling places for local and National elections. However, opening the tightly secured doors during school hours to the entire community can have serious security implications. Many districts have adopted election days as teacher work days to reduce security concerns by giving students the day off, but for those who haven’t, here are some tips to keep your students and buildings safe from harm.
One of the most effective ways to reduce security concerns is to have one single voter entrance that is blocked off from the rest of the school such as a gymnasium or portables. Wherever the polling place is set up, ensure all other doors leading to other areas of the school are locked, reducing the possibility of a voter gaining access to where students are.
Security should be available for all access points, voting areas and parking areas. The visibility of security will lessen the likelihood of someone causing harm, or manipulating the voting process. Since polling places are often in schools, parking lots should be monitored to ensure voters are arriving, voting, and leaving, without loitering and without sneaking into an unauthorized area.
Signage around your school during elections should not be overlooked. Signs not only give guidelines for voters to follow, but they can also be used for legal purposes if the need arises for someone who is loitering or found in unauthorized areas of the school. Use signs to direct voters to the entrance and exit. Don’t forget about posting signs for off limit areas and unauthorized locations that voters should stay away from.
Communication between administrators and security is critical to the safety and security of your building as well as students and other voters. Communication should be open via two-way radios or a communication platform such as Rapid Responder Easy Alert. Easy Alert allows multiple agencies to talk about incidents or potential incidents on a simple platform from any mobile device with an internet connection. All correspondents are time-stamped for review purposes.
Prior to Election Day, hold a meeting with city officials, law enforcement, school administrators, and security personnel. Discuss parking locations, ingress and egress for voters to use, and ways to communicate with each other during voting hours. Also discuss how security will stay heightened prior to doors opening, and after the polls close, poll workers will still need security to finish their jobs and perhaps safely get to their vehicles.
There are many security aspects to consider when using a school as a polling place for elections, especially when students are present throughout the day. Use these tips as a guideline to ensure a secure campus for both voters and students on Election Day. Remember to always do what is best for your particular facility and follow guidelines set by your local law enforcement and school security.