Published December 18 2013
Forum editorial: Voting in schools right callHigh praise to the Fargo School District for returning to the use of public school buildings as polling places. The school district and Cass County stopped using the schools for voting in 2006 when a school administrator, citing safety concerns, sent a letter to the county advising that the schools would not be open for voting. That’s been the situation ever since.
Apparently the school board did not agree with the administrative decree, but it stuck. As a result, the county found other polling places. But now, even in light of the school board’s decision to again use the schools for voting beginning with a March 11 ballot measure, county officials do not intend to make a change. The county might have good reasons to keep voting places out of school buildings, but not that good. The schools were used effectively and efficiently for years before 2006. It’s a reach to conclude the county would be inconvenienced by using them again. Indeed, if voter convenience is one requirement of election management, voting at neighborhood schools fits the bill.
Finally, some polling places are in churches. It’s gracious of houses of worship to open their spaces for voting, but some voters might be reluctant to exercise what is a secular responsibility of citizenship in a church building. In that regard, asking those voters to vote in a church could constitute disenfranchisement.
Meanwhile, it is likely no safety concerns will arise when school district voters go to the polls in school buildings in March.
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