Citing safety concerns, Rooney bill prohibits using schools as polling places

TRENTON, N.J. – In response to a recent event that led to the arrest of a poll worker stationed at a school, Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney has introduced legislation prohibiting the use of schools as polling places.

A poll worker at an elementary school in Wayne was arrested and charged with possession of heroin and being under the influence during last week’s primary election, according to an article.

The 30-year-old man first exhibited suspicious behavior just after noon. He could not stay seated and frequently made trips to the bathroom and his car before finally collapsing on the floor while eating a snack. Police reportedly found heroin and drug paraphernalia in his vehicle.

“This incident underscores the vulnerability of our schools when used as polling places,” said Rooney (R-Bergen). “We don’t need to take unnecessary risks by leaving our doors wide open. This bill is a reasonable and necessary security measure to help protect our students and staff.”

Visitors must provide valid identification, sign in, wear a visitor’s name tag, and checkout when they visit most school buildings under normal circumstances.

New Jersey polling locations are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., which includes operation during school hours.  Schools are forced to ease their usual safety protocols to provide access for poll workers and allow voters access.

“Schools have historically served as Election Day voting locations for years,” continued Rooney. But circumstances have changed requiring us to make student safety our top priority. Continuing to allow unfettered access seems preposterous, especially at a time when public officials are increasing security.”

State law allows a county board of elections to use schools, other public buildings, and commercial and private buildings as polling places for any election. Rooney’s bill (A4192) removes schools from the list of eligible locations.