Should Virginians Continue to Vote at Public Schools?

Oct 8, 2018

Credit justgrimes / Creative Commons

Since the school shooting at Parkland Florida in February, school officials across Virginia have been looking at ways to harden classrooms. One potential way of doing that is finding other places to conduct elections.

Should millions of voters walk in and out of Virginia school buildings on Election Day? That’s an issue of growing concern for school officials, who are rethinking the idea of voting at public schools. The city of Chesapeake is considering eliminating election precincts in schools. Debbie Ritter serves on the Chesapeake City Council.

“We’re certainly going to look at it. I think that’s something governments should do. If people raise valid issues they certainly should be studied and explored."

Ben Kiser at the Virginia Association of School Superintendents says traditionally principals have loved the idea of voting at schools to teach civics.

“And so it can be a learning experience. However other factors, like school safety, has creeped into the conversation.”

But if elections aren’t at schools, where would they be? Virginia law prohibits voting at places of business. So that leaves churches and community centers. That might work for urban areas like Chesapeake. But in many parts of Virginia, the local school is just about the only public building for miles around.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association