CMS schools prepare to serve as voting poll locations

(Charlotte Observer (custom credit) | Charlotte Observer)
Updated: Nov. 5, 2018 at 7:00 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) Almost half of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will be serving as voting poll locations Tuesday for Election Day.

CMS left a voicemail with parents Monday morning addressing concerns for security as students continue with their school. The school district says it will have increased security at the schools serving as voting sites and will also limit voters' access to school buildings.

Michael Dickerson is the Director of Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. He says his department has a plan in place to keep students safe.

"We try to go into a separate entrance of the buildings," Mecklenburg County Board of Elections Director Michael Dickerson said. "So that we don't have to work with them, but those that we do - we try to have staff and that they are guiding everybody through there - we can use also school resource officers so everthing will run smoothly."

A parent however told the Charlotte Observer they are worried about the safety of the students after a fatal shooting at Butler High School Oct. 30.

Whitney Bouknight has two daughters enrolled at a CMS elementary school that were serve voters Tuesday.

"Can you please research and explain why CMS is not closed on Election Day?" she wrote the Observer. "Why are we having a teacher work day (Oct. 31) instead of on Election Day next week? It makes me shake my head."

According to the Charlotte Observer, CMS board policy requires schools to be closed on presidential election days but leaves it up to the calendar committee — and ultimately to a board vote — on other years.

Myers Park Traditional Elementary School (MTPES) is a polling place. Parents there seem not concerned about voters coming to the school while their kids are learning.

"Everytime I have been to vote," MTPES Parent Ryann Guest said. "The kids have been in a completely different area."

Other parents are relieved staff will be also on hand keeping an eye on students.

"The staff they are all nice," MTPES Emmanuel Ehis said. "They know what they are doing. You just can't go in there without knowing why you are there and their eyes are all over the place - looking out for the safety of the kids."

Dickerson says the advice he would give voters heading to schools to vote is to know when the school open and when schools let out.

"Use your head as you are voting," Dickerson said. "Don't go at drop off and don't go there pick up times - that is a difficult, difficult time."

CMS also says students will be rerouted during the school day if needed to keep them from encountering voters. The school district also says poll workers will have to check in and will go to a background check before working at the schools.

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