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Voting at Schools Creates Mixed Feelings Among Patch Readers

Port Washington-Saukville School Board members during a meeting on Monday said mostly supported the idea of ending the use of district buildings as polling locations; readers were split on the idea.

A strong opinion from many Port Washington-Saukville School Board members that voting in school buildings is no longer a safe practice was met by a lot of mixed reaction from Patch readers.

"If it doesn't need to be done at a school, why not move it?" Wendy Smith posted on Patch's Facebook page. "To have the mentality that (a tragedy) has never before happened therefore it won't isn't the best strategy in my book. Would hate to have it happen, and then be the person who made that statement!"

Two buildings in the Port Washington-Saukville School District — Dunwiddie Elementary and Thomas Jefferson Middle School — are currently used as polling locations during elections in Port Washington. The fact that these buildings are wide open to the public for these days has been a concern of the past, but the conversation about school safety thrust the issue to the foreground.

"My opinion is to leave it as is," Bethel Metz wrote on Facebook. "However, people in our community are so incredibly concerned about the safety of our kids in (Port Washington-Saukville) that they feel we need to arm teachers and/or post an officer at each school, so there must be something that I/others don't know about. If arming teachers/having armed guards is part of the larger discussion of how to make (our) schools safe ... if we even agree that they are not safe ... then it is not ridiculous to eliminate predetermined dates and times in which these perceived threats have access to the schools."

Port Washington Deputy Clerk Susan Westerbecke said finding a new location would require thought about adequate space and parking concerns.

"I guess if that time comes, we'll have to start reviewing our options what facilities would be available," she said.

City Administrator Mark Grams said he has been with the city for nearly 27 years, and voting has always taken place in those school buildings; to change the location, a spot within the voting districts would need to be found.

"Its something we'd have to seriously look at to see if there's anything," inside the district with enough parking, he said.

Some say they don't even understand why it started at the schools to beging with.

"Never should have started," Joanne wrote on a Patch article about the issue. "Port has enough public places to use for voting."

Some school officials did say that using the schools as polling locations had offered eduational opportunities, though they no longer felt this was the case.

"Years ago when I volunteered at TJ, I thought this could be a potential problem," MB wrote on the article. "I remember thinking — with all the talk about strangers and safety, I can't believe they still allow all these people at once into the schools."

But others were quick to point out that voting in schools is a common practice across the country — so they didn't see what the fuss was all about.

"People have been voting in schools across the country for a really long time," Tom Kamenick wrote on a Patch article. "If this really poses a danger, there should be lots of violent incidents in schools across the country on voting day to prove it. If there's not, then your gut reaction was wrong, and your decisions should reflect that."

Does voting in the schools pose a danger to students?

Tell us in the comments.

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