School campuses are often used as polling places because they are recognizable, easily accessible, ADA compliant, and often have space available. Safety and security on campus should be the primary responsibility of administrators and district leaders before, during, and after an election.
Before election day
Polling place coordinators should review the district’s safety and security policies and procedures before the election. Other steps you can take to ensure safety and security that day include:
- Acquire a list of all polling places.
- Prepare campuses for the increase in visitors.
- Coordinate delivery of polling equipment and inform campus officials of the schedule.
- Inform local political parties to limit signage and pick up any signs after the election.
- Separate voting areas from offices and classrooms.
- Let election workers know they have limited access to the campus. Outline areas that are accessible to them.
- Make sure election workers are aware of the site’s camera system location. Never cover a camera to protect a voting area.
- Notify parents, students, faculty, and staff that elections will be taking place.
- Provide local or school-based law enforcement officers with a list of polling places on school property.
- Request additional close police patrol assistance to improve response capability.
- Assign teams to check the campus grounds before classes on the morning of the election.
On election day
From the beginning to the end of the Election Day, communication and organization is key to keeping everyone safe. Some simple tips you can follow include:
- Look for suspicious activity and report these activities immediately.
- Ensure a school staff member is on site from poll opening until the polls close. This should be someone whose primary responsibility is maintaining school safety.
- Ensure election workers check in through the school’s visitor management system.
- Let election workers know the importance of minimizing disruption to safe school operations.
- Make sure all polling place access points are clearly marked.
- Remind polling place workers to follow rules and safety standards. This includes ensuring exits are not blocked and signing in and out of campus.
- Do not grant anyone access to the campus beyond the voting site. This includes restrooms and side exits.
- Do not allow anyone to prop doors open.
- Do not open locked exterior doors for anyone.
- Remind faculty and staff to wear official school identification.
- Remind campus visitors to wear visitor management badges.
- Remind election workers and volunteers to wear proper county identification.
- Identify a specific voter parking area when possible.
After election day
After the election is over, there is still work to be done to ensure campuses are ready for classes the next day and ensure continued safety and security, including:
- Check campus grounds before classes on the morning after the election, looking for anything suspicious.
- Work with the local election office to quickly remove campaign and polling place signs from school property.
- Work with the local elections office to quickly remove all election equipment, setting a deadline to do so.
Following these simple steps will allow districts to support the voting process while maintaining a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff. For questions about school security and safety, contact Emergency Management and School Security Consultant Melanie Moss. Learn more in What You Need to Know about Polling Locations.