Early voting — A school detriment?

The Editorial Board

From Oct. 26 to Nov. 3, early voting for the 2019 elections took place in New York. The early voting initiative was approved earlier this year by the state legislature to give New Yorkers additional days to vote, not just on Nov. 5, which is Election Day. 

The law will most likely increase civic engagement in the state, but lawmakers seemingly forgot to take one thing into account — most polling sites are public institutions, including schools. Students in these schools have Election Day off, but they did not have the week of early voting off. One problem with this law is that it may result in overcrowding. Schools are not equipped to accommodate both their student population and local voters. Having both groups there at the same time can be a major safety hazard. 

Additionally, because voting usually takes place in large spaces such as school cafeterias, gymnasiums and auditoriums, a child’s day could be disrupted and they might have to miss out on their regular lunch or physical education period. This is not fair to students or to their teachers, who have to come up with alternate solutions to these locations. 

Civic engagement and making one’s voice heard is important. However, once children have to be displaced from their regular classes or cafeterias, or once there is a safety hazard, early voting harms more than it helps. Either early voting should not happen in public schools, or schools should be warned months in advance when early voting will happen.