Local News

Are Schools Used For Voting Secure On Election Day?

Posted November 7, 2001

— Election Day was a day for all of our rekindled patriotism to shine at the polls. In this time of heightened security, how safe are those polling places -- especially when they are in our neighborhood schools?

On Election Day, school doors open to voters. That means strangers walk in and out of school buildings, many times, with no one stopping them. It is a concern for many parents.

On Tuesday, election signs were the only indication that the day was different at Stough Elementary. Voters entered a door, crossed the lobby and entered the room to vote.

Were any measures in place to prevent someone from wandering down a hall or entering a classroom?

The school's principal said that there was no special security at Stough on Election Day, but there was a security camera on the ceiling.

"I've never had a concern. We're watching very carefully and the people who are coming in here are coming in for a reason and that's to vote. We feel that sense of confidence," said principal Gig Harris.

Dozens of Wake County schools serve as polling places.

At Hillburn Elementary, there was no security at the door. The school's principal said a poll worker keeps an eye on traffic in and out of the school. The poll workers at Hillburn said school security was not their job.

At Lynn Road Elementary, the polling area was separate from the school, but there was a playground nearby. There were lots of voters on Election Day, but not much security.

Is security needed and where do schools draw the line between keeping students safe and opening their doors to democracy?

"Just as it's good for the kids to see democracy in action, the community members can see the school, and they can see that it's a safe place, it's a good place to be. Friendly people are here and they feel comfortable," said Harris.

WRAL knows of no incidents at schools that serve as polling places, and does not want to alarm parents.

WRAL deliberately did not send anyone inside school buildings to see how far they could get roaming the halls, opting instead to give the schools the benefit of the doubt that the security measures they had in place were adequate.


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