Schools across the country are cancelling classes on Election Day, citing fears of altercations or even violence erupting in the hallways as people cast their votes.
School districts in Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina have all opted for students to take the day off rather than share the building with voters, according to USA Today. Some districts have asked that polling sites be moved from schools altogether, the Associated Press reported.
The news comes the same day as a USA Today/Suffolk University poll shows more than half of Americans are concerned about the possibility of Election Day violence.
In recent weeks, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has escalated his warnings of a supposedly “rigged” election — a claim he repeatedly makes without evidence — and has urged his supporters to monitor polling sites in order to prevent voter fraud. Observers fear the candidate’s rhetoric could lead to the intimidation of voters at some locations.
“There’s going to be a lot of people coming in and out of the buildings throughout the day as they show up to vote,” Jeff Graham, superintendent of Ohio’s Lorain City School District, told USA Today. “We want to ensure a smooth experience for everyone concerned. We felt it would be best for our students and community.”
Alpay Balkir, a parent from Falmouth, Maine, echoed the same concerns to the Associated Press.
“If it’s going to be as chaotic as they say it’s going to be, it’s a good thing. Kids should stay out of it,” he told the AP. “I don’t know what the environment is going to be like.”
Schools and churches are popular polling sites in the US because of their central locations and ample parking availability. But this year’s election has some officials questioning how long the practice should last.
“If you take the personalities away and cast the emotion with the election aside, one has to ask the question: ‘Are our schools the best places for that activity to take place?'” said John Reinhart, a superintendent from Easton, Pennsylvania, according to the Associated Press. “I just think we’ve reached the point where we need to look at other locations.”
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