Quad Cities counties differ on using schools as polling locations

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QUAD CITEIS (KWQC) – School districts, parents and election officials across the country are expressing concern about polling locations inside of schools. And right here in the Quad Cities, counties disagree on school’s importance to the process.

“Sometimes the schools are the only locations we’ve got,” said Knox County Clerk Scott Erickson.

He said he’s grateful two area high schools welcome voters with open arms.

“The schools work out great,” Erickson said. “Parking is already usually there. People know where those locations are at.”

He said Abingdon-Avon and Knoxville High Schools offer polling locations that don’t interrupt school.

“Everything within the city limits of Knoxville actually is voting at the high school, the old gymnasium now, and then in Abingdon we moved out of a classroom location and into their weight room facility which is in a building adjacent to their high school,” Erickson said.

Precincts are consolidating making it more difficult to find large voting centers, according to Erickson. He also said the county eliminated churches as viable locations after too many complaints.

“We’ve had complaints before of religious concerns,” Erickson said. “If there was certain posters hanging on the wall.”

That’s why he said schools are so important to the voting process. And Knoxville High School’s Asst. Principal Heather Smith said the school is happy to help.

“We have the luxury of having a facility that has access by the gym so that the community is coming straight into the polling area,” Smith said.  “It’s not accessible to our cafeteria and to our academic wing.”

Smith said parents have not complained, and offering the school as a voting site allows students to get an up-close and personal view of democracy at work.

“It’s an excellent opportunity to incorporate this into our curriculum,” she said.

It’s a different tune in Scott County though.

Auditor Roxana Moritz said several parents have expressed concerns about having strangers come in and out of the school.

“So really what we were asking on this election day, or on any election day, for them to just discount all of the security measures that they’ve put in place for us to go vote on that day,” Moritz said.

And she hopes to eventually have zero voting facilities inside schools.

“We only have {North High School} that we’re in,” she said. “You know we’d like to be out of all of them.”

 

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