It's not 18 months now, is it?
November 7, 2006 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Why don't my kids have school on election day?

I went to school on election day (uphill, both ways, in drifts of snow, grumble grumble...). But my gradeschoolers and those of my colleagues are off today. Why? They attend a public school in suburban Chicago, fwiw.
posted by Terminal Verbosity to Law & Government (19 answers total)

I was wondering the same thing when a few of my co-workers were complaining about having trouble finding babysitters today because so many kids were out of school, but then I remembered that two of my old voting precients were inside of school cafeterias.

IMO, Election Day should be a national holiday - none of us should be at work! We should all be out voting!
posted by banannafish at 7:42 AM on November 7, 2006

I would think a lot of states have school off, because schools are used as polling places (my polling place in NY is a school).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:45 AM on November 7, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yep, I voted at the local grade school this morning, in fact.
posted by Gamblor at 7:53 AM on November 7, 2006

I works great for keeping the poor out of polling places too. If you have no daytime childcare and your kids are off then you have to stay home. Hence no voting.

The threat of intruders is a complete non-sequitur. I not only had school on election day as a child but the elementary schools were the polling places. This is something ugly in the guise of "thinking of the children."
posted by shagoth at 8:10 AM on November 7, 2006

shagoth: That's ridiculous. Parents may have to take a day off because of no childcare, but there's no reason they can't take the kids with them to the polling place. In fact, I have many fond memories of going to vote with my parents, which is probably a big part of the reason that I'm an active, interested voter now.

Having Election Day off happens because school principals and school boards -- who do, in fact, think about the welfare of children -- figure that, since they have to do teacher in-service sometime, a day with lots of potential for disruption is as good as any.
posted by dseaton at 8:22 AM on November 7, 2006

shagoth, my mother always took my younger brother and I to the polls with her...

But then you're probably kidding, and I'm just bitter 'cause I never got out of school for election day...
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 8:23 AM on November 7, 2006

Since 1980, in Texas, DC, and California, I have voted at schools which were open and which were also used as polling places. Why should that be a problem?
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:23 AM on November 7, 2006

The school I voted in this morning was a zoo. It was near the start of the school day, so all the parents were dropping off their kids, and other kids were walking to school and they were all over the place. Plus there wasn't enough parking. They also couldn't use the gym as a gym, since that was where the voting was. (A lot of elementary schools also use the gym as cafeteria, which is probably a bigger problem.) And finally, you end up with strange adults wandering around an elementary school, which some people might have a problem with.

I see why they would close the school.
posted by smackfu at 8:31 AM on November 7, 2006

Well, in addition to the "please think of the children" thing (and somehow this didn't matter when we were kids so go figure), there's "so teachers will have time to vote too." I won't put too much credence in the "it's too disruptive of the normal schoolday" argument as long as there are still polling places in firehouses. I mean, they handle emergencies from the firehouse so that's the last place in the world they need disruption. If this is some kind of middle step to a regional or national voting day holiday, that seems like it is probably a good thing.

Of course some people live places where they have solved the polling place issue, the electronic voting/paper trail issue, and a bunch of other problems by going to mail-in ballots only.
posted by ilsa at 8:31 AM on November 7, 2006

I vote at an elementary school down the street from my house. The kids are there in force every year, we voters are shunted down to some weird long room in the basement ... probably the tornado/fallout shelter! During the 2004 election, the lines were so long that we had to wait outside the classroom area ... I kept having weird flashbacks to my own elementary school experience, especially when the smell of the cafeteria started wafting through the halls *shudder*
posted by kuppajava at 8:31 AM on November 7, 2006

Mr. Lucinda and I vote at our son's school. They set up the machines in the multipurpose room (gym/cafeteria). The kids eat in their classrooms that day, and the voting volunteers gently steer the adults into the MPR (which is directly straight ahead from the main entrance) so there's no OMFG RANDOM_ADULT_01 IS MIXING WITH TEH KIDXZARS!

Mr. Lucinda also took our kid in with him to vote, and let him pull one of the levers.
posted by Lucinda at 9:24 AM on November 7, 2006

I think the claims of conspiracy are misplaced. My polling place today was a closed school in Montgomery County, MD, which is hardly a likely candidate for Republican dirty tricks.

I'm glad the school was closed. As it was there wasn't enough parking at the school and I would hate to think what having teachers, parents dropping people off, etc. would have done to the scene. If closing school encourages people to take their kids to the polls with them, even better. We could stand to make election day a little bigger deal in ways like that.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:31 AM on November 7, 2006

My school district is out today for the "teacher work days" that come at the end of the first quarter. We get a 4 day weekend around this time every year, and a lot of the time it falls on election day, but not always. I remember in elementary school getting to have PE outside because people were voting in the gym.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 10:55 AM on November 7, 2006

I wish the school had been closed. I live in a smallish town in Texas, and the voting is in the main hallway of the school by the entrance. This morning was a parking, teachers and kids and parents and voters all trying to get in at the same time. Chaos.
posted by dejah420 at 11:50 AM on November 7, 2006

Most of our polling places around here are churches. That's where I voted, at least. And there were plenty of folks with kids along, too. Plus I accompanied my parents voting numerous times.

Really, though... it's a day off. Kids aren't gonna argue with that and neither are teachers.
posted by dagnyscott at 12:06 PM on November 7, 2006

Contract language, possibly. A lot of unions negotiate for Election Day off, and Teachers' Unions are no different. I've never had Election Day off from school or work, and my current residence is the only one where the polling place isn't at a school.

And, of course, parking and crowding. It's just a lot easier if voters don't have to deal with school traffic.
posted by jlkr at 12:17 PM on November 7, 2006 Australia voting is done on a Saturday, so the schools are empty. I wonder why the US keeps it's elections on a weekday, considering it seems a major hassle for all involved.
And the pubs stay open here (if the Simpsons reference to Moe having to close on election day is true).
posted by bystander at 3:37 PM on November 7, 2006

banannafish writes "Election Day should be a national holiday - none of us should be at work! We should all be out voting!"

Everyone? Police officers? Nurses? EMTs? Power Engineers? Journalists? Transit employees? Tow truck drivers? Cabbies?

I'd bet a national holiday for voting would result in less voter turnout. People would take the chance to take a 3-4 day weekend and be away from their polling station thereby unable to vote.
posted by Mitheral at 7:58 AM on November 8, 2006

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