Stirpe: Schools should close on Election Day

Al Stirpe

Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-Cicero) announced that he’s pushing to pass a bill to require schools across New York State to close on Election Day (A.444). The measure is an important step in encouraging voter participation while protecting the safety of children.

“Using schools as polling sites makes sense, since they’re convenient, handicap accessible, and centrally located,” said Stirpe. “But we have to be aware of safety issues that come with opening up school buildings to the public one day a year. This legislation takes care of those concerns so people can get to the polls and students can stay safe.”

The day off could be used as a staff development day, as it is in many Central New York schools, so educational days are not impacted, noted Stirpe. The bill also makes it easier for schools to appeal their designation as a polling place; however, currently many election officials refrain from designating schools as polling places unless there are no other suitable locations.

In addition, the measure emphasizes the importance of elections to younger generations and encourages more student involvement in the process by allowing those interested in becoming poll workers to take part.

“Measures like this one protect our students, safeguard our voting process, and encourage greater voter participation,” said Dustin Czarny, Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner. “And we all know that when more voters can have a say, more voices will be heard. It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”

The Bipartisan Policy Center, Common Cause New York and the New York State Election Commissioners Association have all come out in support of the bill, Stirpe noted.

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