Stop Using Public Schools as Election Day Polling Locations

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Two years ago, I was shocked to learn that my child's school building was being used as a polling location on election day while school was in session. When schools are used as polling places on election days, standard safety procedures, including locked front entrances, are not followed. Numerous school buildings across the state are being used as polling and election places while children are in school, potentially jeopardizing student safety. 

Despite numerous attempts to reason with our local Election Bureau and school district, nothing has changed. I have since learned that this is happening all across the state, so I am now reaching out to legislators in an attempt to have this law changed at the state level.

The law--specifically, Section 527 of the Pennsylvania Election Code, which hasn't been updated since June 3, 1937--states that school buildings MUST be used as polling places if no other municipal location "volunteers" its space. The code states:

"Public Buildings to Be Used Where Possible; Portable Polling Places.--(a) In selecting polling places, the county board of elections shall, wherever possible and practicable, select schoolhouses, municipal buildings or rooms, or other public buildings for that purpose. Any board of public education or school directors, or county or the municipal authorities shall, upon request of the county board, make arrangements for the use of school property, or of county or municipal property for polling places."

In light of the shootings and tragedies that have been taking place in our schools, it is long past the time to update this code. School districts can no longer claim that they are doing all that they can to protect our children if they're allowing the general public to filter in and out of a school building while school is in session on election days.

In today's uncertain climate, it is beyond worrisome that school districts across the state are being forced to override standard safety precautions to allow voting while school is in session. This law that requires school districts to use their buildings as polling locations MUST be changed to protect schoolchildren from harm. 

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