Schools across the country are planning on closing on Election Day, fearing that the ugly rhetoric of the campaign could spill over to voters at the polls and put the children in danger.
As Fox News reports, millions of Americans cast their votes in public or private schools on Election Day, and sometimes the adults cross paths with the kids. Normally, the process goes off without a hitch – the adults just want to get their vote cast and then return to work or home, while the kids are just going about their day normally, with the added spectacle of hundreds of strange adults in the building.
This year, however, is different. This year’s election season has been one of angry rhetoric, violence at campaign rallies, and even a Republican campaign office in North Carolina being vandalized and firebombed.
— LiberalValuesNetwork (@lordxmen2k) October 18, 2016
Further, Donald Trump has already been claiming that the election is “rigged” even before the first Election Day votes are cast. He has also encouraged his supporters to act as “poll observers,” according to Politico – which, by the way, is something that is viewed as “voter intimidation” in most states and will get you thrown in jail.
— ABC News (@ABC) October 26, 2016
Considering the heated rhetoric, strong emotions, and possibility of criminal activity during the election, the town of Falmouth, Maine, has decided to keep the kids away from the schools that day. Police Chief Ed Tolan says that all Falmouth schools will be closed, and there will be an increased police presence around town.
“If anybody can sit there and say they don’t think this is a contentious election, then they aren’t paying much attention.”
It’s a decision that Falmouth parent Alpay Balkir supports.
“If it’s going to be as chaotic as they say it’s going to be, it’s a good thing. Kids should stay out of it. I don’t know what the environment is going to be like.”
It’s not just communities in Maine that are canceling school on Election Day over fears of violence. In Lorain, Ohio, according to The Chronicle-Telegram, officials made the decision to cancel school November 8. Officially, the reason is the problem of having big crowds of adults moving around inside of a school, possibly disrupting the educational process. But Superintendent Jeff Graham said that the specter of Election Day violence also loomed over his decision.
“There are going to be so many people showing up to vote with the way the presidential election is shaping up so far… It’s probably going to be a tense atmosphere, and we just thought it would be best.”
Similarly, schools in Illinois, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Alabama, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin have all either closed schools on Election Day, or moved polling places away from schools, over fears of violence at the voting booths.
Speaking to Atlanta Black Star, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, co-chairman of the National Association of Secretaries of State election committee, said that putting adults into a building with lots of children, in this political climate, is a disaster waiting to happen.
“What if someone walks in a polling location with a backpack bomb or something? If that happens at a school, then that’s certainly concerning.”
It’s not just schoolkids and other voters who may be at risk of Election Day violence. In Denver, poll workers have been required to undergo “active shooter” training, should an armed individual decide to take out his frustration at a polling place.
Do you think closing schools over fears of Election Day violence is the right decision?
[Featured Image by Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock]