Election Day [School] Holiday

Reports that the Secretary of the State is asking for uniform school calendars for election day school holidays. Register Citizen: Merrill: Close Connecticut schools on Election Day <read>

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is encouraging Connecticut schools to close on Election Day.

Merrill appeared Monday before a task force that’s developing guidelines for regional educational service centers to use in creating uniform regional school calendars.

Merrill said more than 100 schools where polling places are located are already closed on Election Day for mostly student security reasons. In many of those districts, the teachers use that day for professional development. She said she’s recommending that other districts follow suit.

Merrill said schools make great polling places. They’re centrally located and have adequate parking.

She urged the task force to consider that state law requires primary elections to be held in the same polling place as the general election.

There are several good reasons to close schools on election day:

  • They make great polling places.
  • Security may be an issue in some places, yet parking is likely an issue almost everywhere.
  • There is a great program for using High School students as poll workers. It is highly neglected in towns, even those with school holidays. It should be encouraged and expanded.

We would caution against closing for primary elections. The law should be changed to allow registrars to agree and reduce the number of polling places for primaries, when turn-out is relatively low. Making primaries school holidays would also be quite a challenge for a school calendar, since municipal primaries are not held uniformly – some in April, some in September, and most towns in most years do not have municipal primaries. Probably not good policy unless both days were holidays, since otherwise candidates would be under pressure to primary or not based on causing or avoiding a school holiday.

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