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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: November 29, 2017 12:57 PM
From: Senator Mario M. Scavello
To: All Senate members
Subject: Use of School Buildings as Polling Places
In the near future, I intend to introduce legislation which would make the use of school buildings as polling places a last resort.

This legislation is being introduced in response to safety concerns that were raised in my legislative district a few weeks ago when a Pennsylvania State Trooper was shot during a traffic stop in Northampton County on Election Day, November 7, 2017. All schools in the area were placed on lockdown with the exception of one school, which was placed on lockdown but could not be fully secured due to the location of a polling place within that school building.

Polling places within school facilities pose safety and security concerns for students and school staff by allowing unverified individuals into a building during school hours. Election Day polling places can also be disruptive for a school’s normal operation with the presence of election volunteers, poll observers, and lines of voters throughout hallways waiting to vote during high turnout elections.

It is understandable that schools have been the location of choice for many years due to placement in communities, large areas within the building to situate a polling place (such as gyms and cafeterias), and sufficient parking for voters. However, there are often comparable public buildings in which to choose from that do not pose a safety concern for students and school staff. While in some areas of the Commonwealth election officials need school facilities to field a sufficient number of polling places in voting districts, there are areas where alternative locations exist and my legislation would require election officials to seek out those locations first.

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation in an effort to provide safer school environments for our children, school staff, parents, volunteers and all other stakeholders across the Commonwealth.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation, please contact Christine Zubeck in my office at 717-787-6123 or czubeck@pasen.gov. Thank you for your consideration.

Introduced as SB1048