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Voters are a Threat to Children

We vote in a school. Traditionally, we go down a long hallway toward the gymnasium where each half of the room is divided off to support two different precincts. This morning, we were directed into a fenced area with different doors and different rooms than we’ve used before. The person outside directing people told us, “It’s about keeping the children safe.”

Wow. I didn’t realize that voters who care enough to turn up to vote on Primary Day at 7am were a threat to children. As Sebastian said when we passed a large group of kids waiting to catch the school bus on a busy street, how could we leave them so unprotected from voters? The might learn about being engaged with their community or something!

Seriously, this annoyed me on so many levels. First of all, the woman just said I was a threat to kids. Second, the doors had to be propped open so they would remain unlocked, and it was 40 degrees out this morning with windchill in the mid-30s. The election workers were all in long sleeves and coats and still talking about being cold. How much extra will we pay in heating bills today for those rooms to never get warm? Third, there are no signs to tell the people who have been voting there for years that things changed. Just a woman who will inform any lost looking adults that they must enter the fenced area and go in the designated rooms so they are kept away from the children in the name of safety.

On a random note, I was voter number 1. I should have let Sebastian go first since he’s never been the first voter before. This is not my first time. Yes, I take a little pride in it.

As for the controversial voter id law here in Pennsylvania, it was painless. I didn’t even have to pull my license out of the holder in the little wallet. My only complaint is that you’d think the poll workers could learn how to spell our names even when we are spelling them verbally AND showing them identification. But no. Alas, expecting poll workers who can see, hear, or spell simple names is too much.

11 Responses to “Voters are a Threat to Children”

  1. Bubblehead Les says:

    I’m so glad that Ohio has really easy Absentee Balloting. Besides all the hassle with Voting in my local school, I still get to keep my RKBA intact by Voting at Home. Remember, one can be arrested just by taking off one’s Pistol and locking it in the Trunk, because one has brought a Firearm onto School Property, even though it’s the Parking Lot.

  2. Richard says:

    Schools go on lockdown for a variety of reasons-police activity in the neighborhood, out-of-control parents, threats, wild animals. If the polling place is in the school, it gets locked down too. Then guess who gets blamed in a close election. On top of that there is the issue cited to you. What better way to infiltrate than to come in with a horde of unknown people who aren’t required to present ID. And there is the disruption of the educational process which is after all the school’s mission. Better to remove the polling places from the schools altogether but failing that, the separation you object to is a reasonable compromise.

    • Bitter says:

      It’s amazing how we managed to vote for years without disrupting the school before. In fact, I just can’t fathom how I survived my childhood with so many strangers in the school who came in to vote. I even managed to barely get an education despite the massive disruption in my life twice a year! How on earth did I make to become a functioning adult?!?

      I must be terribly out of touch with the true concerns about parents these days because I don’t ever remember a community I grew up in getting up in arms over the idea of voters being around children. I don’t remember teachers lamenting that they couldn’t possibly be expected to do their jobs because voters might be in the cafeteria. It’s not a disruption, and it’s not a danger.

      Not to mention, we only took up one room when we used the gym to vote. With this set up, we kicked kids out of at least two classrooms. You’re telling me that it’s a better solution to kick kids out of class for the entire day rather than have them maybe miss a bit of time running around the gym when they could just as easily play outside?

      And your point really doesn’t work when there is a law that every voter must show identification.

      • richard says:

        Sorry, I have worked in a school district and it is a disruption and an expense for the schools.

        You didn’t address the lockdown issue at all. I am afraid that you don’t have a good grasp on school security issues.

        Lots of places don’t have voter ID.

        Someone else suggested closing the schools on election day which is another possible compromise but that takes a day out of the school year which has to be added on at the beginning or end of the year when it is hot. Not all schools have AC, you know.

        The best solution is to get the polling places out of the schools and into larger locations or do mail ballots with appropriate controls.

        • Bitter says:

          No, I didn’t address the lockdown issue. There are already accommodations in place for polling locations that run into problems. In 2008, I started calling people in a neighboring town just as polls were closing down to let them know that their poll hours were extended another hour because of a gas leak. You can’t predict everything. I saw some initial reports on Twitter that election officials couldn’t get into a Philly building by 7am, so they were having to bring out bolt cutters and try and “break” in to set up the building. I’m sure voters there will get extended hours – appropriately so. Largely, I don’t see how a security issue at the school can cause any more disruption to voting than other problems beyond the control of election officials.

          Pennsylvania does have voter id laws, so your argument there is simply moot. It may apply other places, but not to my voting experience highlighted here.

          As for disruptions, I never said that there was zero disruption. I’m simply saying that having been a student in a school where voting took place and having voted in a school setup where only was non-educational room was used, you haven’t convinced me that forcing two classrooms to clear out really is the least disruptive model.

          • Richard says:

            I have to note that your new post says that Philadelphia is violating the voter ID law. So perhaps I should have said “enforced voter ID”.

            I appreciate the nostalgia for the way things used to be but unfortunately are not any more. We live in an age of terrorism and school massacres. School districts spend a lot of time and effort trying to ensure that students are safe. And when it hits the fan, school employees can be suicidally courageous. There was a teacher in MS that took a bullet meant for her students, an assistant principal in FL that, on the day of his retirement, walked up and disarmed a shooter, the custodians at Columbine who made repeated trips back into the school to get students out until the cops made them quit. Since we are not likely to have the Israeli model of security here any time soon, districts do what they can and barriers is one of the things they can do. New schools have doors that don’t open from the outside and access control in the office for the doors that do. Many old schools are retro-fitting to this end as well. School administrators and police hassle teachers for leaving doors open that shouldn’t be. Schools have lockdown drills and emergency bags for office staff and so on.

            Visualize yourself as a school official who receives a threat that would normally lead to a district wide lockdown. And such threats do exist. Imagine it is election day and polling places are in your schools. Do you follow the drill and close it down, thereby screwing up the election or keep it open, violate policy and run the risk. And many large school districts are in uni-party communities where a lockdown could change the election outcome or require a do-over. Since I have participated in discussions of this sort in school districts, I can assure you that this is on people’s minds.

            Better just to take the schools out of the election business. What you encountered was an attempt at a compromise by creating internal barriers.

    • Patrick H says:

      Seriously? They could just go past a bus stop or just wait before or after school when there is no protection at all!

      Oh no, I bet I gave them an idea. Crap.

  3. Jake says:

    Huh. Here in VA, they just close the schools on election days. It saves a whole lot of hassle to just have a planned day off for the kids rather than having to plan around having the gym/classrooms/etc. unavailable. It’s not like elections are a surprise, or something that comes up on short notice, after all.

  4. Dannytheman says:

    Because it is only a Primary the schools are open. Come November they will close the schools. The teachers will be doing their civic duty to work a poll for the Unions.
    I vote at a church and recommend to my elected officials to NOT use schools as they would never need to close them.
    I have been number 1 voter 6 times, Bitter. Of course I worked the polls for 12 years.

  5. Adam Z says:

    My voting experience today in Killadelphia, Filthadelfia, the Ciy of Brotherly Shove or whatever you want to call it…was unique. Voter ID law? What’s that, according to the reaction of the local polling people? Told them my name and was pulling out my Driver’s License (although I knew it was not necessary during this primary in PA but will be during the General election in November) but was wavied off with a statement to the effect of “Don’t need that, Thanks”. Technically speaking they were right but one would like to think they would get people used to showing their ID for voting…Nahhh! Additionally noone mentioned that I will need ID for the General Election.

    Next came the part that really irked me! Although I know that that this city is almost 80% Registered Democrat…

    http://www.seventy.org/Downloads/Election_Returns_&_Data/Election_Results_67-11/Philadelphia_Voter_Registration_Totals_1967-2011.pdf

    …the woman yells out “Line up for Democrat”. Really? I cordially but emphatically pointed out to her and everyone else there, that I was not a Democrat. Then comes the deer caught in my headlights question from her “Then, what are you”? Its unbelievable to me, that these mental-midgets are either ignorant of PA voting law – which basically states that Independents cannot vote in a Democrat/Republican primary or she just assumes that everyone in the city is Democrat. Wow. Just Wow.

    I cannot wait to move out of this city…

  6. Clint1911 says:

    It would be “safer” to let teacher and admin carry their CCW on school grounds, but that would make too much sense.

    On a slightly related note; Who carries at church… And why?

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