Election Day is today and many churches, schools and community centers will be opening their doors as polling places.
How can facilities managers work with election officials to make sure polling places remain safe and secure for voters? A few ideas:
Voting should be the focus of activity for the day. If possible, all other activities should be cancelled or moved to a different part of the facility.
Identify where voting will take place. The voting location should be of adequate size, and have its own entrance and exit. Restrooms should be adjacent to the polling area, so voters and poll workers don’t have to be directed to another part of the facility.
Parking should be convenient to the entrance of the polling place, clearly marked, and separate from other usage.
Poll workers should have access to communication tools like two-way radios and/or cell phones, so they can place calls for emergency assistance, if necessary. Outline safety and security plans, and make sure everyone who will be on site on election day – volunteers, workers, officials, facility personnel – understands what to do in the event of an emergency.
Facilities managers and election officials should walk through the facility together before Election Day, taking note of any safety issues that should be corrected. Pay attention to slip and fall hazards like curbs, potholes and handrails. Plan for adequate signage to direct voters where they need to be.
Facilities managers should walk through the entire facility – not just the polling area — throughout the day to make sure nothing is amiss. If the facility is equipped with video cameras, be sure cameras are directed to key locations, and monitors are adequately staffed.
Plans should be communicated to all facility stakeholders – staff, volunteers, parents, students, etc. – who may be present at the facility during polling, even if they are not directly involved.
For more on safety and security for polling places, visit the web site of the National School Safety and Security Services.
Campus Safety Magazine also recently hosted a webinar on the topic for schools.