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Should Schools Be Used As Voting Locations?


Residents of Salt Lake County will no longer be able to vote at local schools on Election Day.

According to Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen, the reason for the policy change was a concern about opening up school facilities to members of the public. While the decision is a new one, she commented to the media that the topic had been in discussion since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Whether to use schools as polling places has been debated in other part of the country in recent years as worries over school shootings have remained in the public mind. Usually it is school districts themselves that ask election officials to exclude them on Election Day. For instance, in 2013 several school districts in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, requested that their schools no longer be used for voting. In May of this year, the Wauwatosa School Board in Wisconsin voted to formally ask their city to leave their schools out when assigning precinct voting locations.

Swenson pointed to vote-by-mail as a factor that lessened the need to use schools for voting. The website of the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office states that voters can use any of the other designated Voting Centers in the county to cast their ballot.