PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — With high voter turnout expected next month on Election Day, school officials in several communities have decided to cancel classes that day.
Schools are used as polling places in many communities throughout the state. Because of heavy traffic and other safety concerns, classes have been canceled for students at some schools where voters will be casting their ballots.
“The reality of trying to accommodate the election and to have a student day with all of those activities and so forth, it would be really logistically difficult to accommodate both," Cape Elizabeth town clerk Debra Lane said.
In Cape Elizabeth, there will be no classes at three schools. School officials there have moved a workshop day to that date, meaning teachers will still show up for work, but students will have the day off.
Cape Elizabeth is not alone in shutting down schools on Nov. 8 to accommodate voters. Many communities throughout the state are taking similar action.
In Lewiston, Superintendent Bill Webster said the concerns of mixing students with voters has been building for years. This year, he called off classes at two elementary schools. The paths voters take go right through the middle of both schools. Big voter turnout numbers are a concern this year, but so is the tone some of the races have taken on.
“I think this year, the election is a little more contentious," he said. "Turnout is expected to be much, much higher. Let’s be safe, do the safe thing and not have classes for students that day."
The issue has some school boards looking to work with local officials to try to find other locations for polling places so that schools don’t have to be disrupted in the future.