Safety concerns prompt relocation of polling places from some N.J. schools

Some New Jersey voters might not be going to their familiar polling place for next month’s elections.

Concerns about school safety following last year’s fatal shootings at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, have prompted election officials in a few New Jersey counties to move polling sites out of schools.

“If you’re in a school, for instance, where voters would be walking past classrooms or are walking past areas where children are congregated, there is a concern about the children’s safety,” said Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the New Jersey Schools Association.

Many county election boards are getting requests to move even more of those polling places elsewhere, according to the administrator of the Union County Board of Elections.

“Most of the schools don’t like the idea that people are just coming into their building,” said Dennis Kobits, also the president of the New Jersey Association of Elected Officials. “Under state statue you can’t be asking for ID or going though metal detectors to go vote. So there’s no way to keep the kids safe during Election Day while all the voters are coming into the school.”

To avoid potential problems, Kobits says election officials would like to have all schools closed on Election Day. A bill to require that was introduced in the New Jersey legislature this session, but lawmakers have not yet acted on it.

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