Lake Highlands area elementary schools serve as polling places in local, state and national elections

Lake Highlands area schools serve as polling places in local, state and national elections

The election is over, but one Richardson ISD mom still has voting on her mind and wants you to sign her petition. Her movement isn’t related to our new president, it’s about the location where you voted.

Becky Campbell says she’s concerned about RISD residents walking into school buildings on election day while students are attending class. “There are strict procedures and rules in place to approve campus visitors and keep our elementary schools safe during the school day,” she says. “All visitors must be buzzed in at the locked front doors and pass into the office to receive approval and a badge before accessing the locked school hallways. However, on election days these rules go out the window and the doors are open wide.”

While strangers stream into hallways to access gyms for voting, she worries, children walk the same hallways or sit “literally 5 feet away” in the cafeteria.

Signers of her petition agree.

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“Voting in a contentious election such as this poses a danger to staff and students and should not be allowed while school is in session unless the public can be properly separated from our children,” wrote commenter Tracy Voegtle.

“Though voting is extremely important and a good lesson to children,” agreed Miranda Bennett, “we should not make schools vulnerable by hosting polls at the schools. Libraries, fire stations, police stations and post offices are all appropriate.”

One LH elementary teacher I spoke to had other ideas. She preferred not to be identified.

“I think it’s really neat for the kids to see how the whole process works. I personally don’t mind that it disrupts our gym schedule. Kids need to see citizens fulfilling their civic duty.”

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Tony Harkleroad is retiring in December as RISD’s Deputy Superintendent for Financial Services, but he wears lots of hats. Elections fall under his many responsibilities.

“We would generally prefer that elections not be held in the schools due to security concerns, but they are there because we have to make the buildings available to Dallas County Elections since they are considered a public building,” Harkleroad told me. “There was some consideration during the last session about trying to close schools on election day or making some other provision to try and address security issues, but it did not move forward.”

Campbell is addressing her petition to RISD, and it isn’t clear if she mistakenly believes the school district has chosen to host elections or if she wants RISD to pressure Dallas County to make a change.

If you’d like to sign the petition, you may access it here.