Provides that no school shall be in session on general election day.
BILL NUMBER: S5494
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the education law, in relation to school session days
PURPOSE : This bill amends Education Law section 3604 subdivision 8 to eliminate the prohibition therein barring school closings on the general election day.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS : Section 1: Repeals the provision in Education Law section 3604 subdivision 8, which bars schools from being in session on Saturdays and legal holidays, but exempts general election day from that prohibition.
Section 2: Provides for the Act to take effect immediately.
JUSTIFICATION : The need for suitable poll sites, especially disabled accessible ones, has never been greater. Throughout the state new ballot marking devices and optical scan voting machines that are accessible to those with disabilities have been replacing, and will soon completely replace the lever machines. However, while these new systems are disabled accessible, all poll sites are not.
The new voting systems and their ability to handle multiple ballot types and election districts will require a reconfiguration of election districts and poll sites to maximize the efficient use of the new machines. Schools are ideal poll sites because they are public buildings, are usually accessible to the disabled and have ample parking. Election Law section 4-104.3 reflects a preference for using schools as poll sites by stating that "a building exempt form taxation shall be used whenever possible as a polling place if it is situated in the same or a contiguous election district and, and may contain as many distinctly separate polling places as public convenience may require." The expense, if any, incidental to its use shall be paid like the expense of other places for registration and voting.
If the board or body empowered to designate polling places chooses a public school building for such purposes, the board or agency which controls such building must make available a room or rooms in such building which are suitable for registration and voting, and which are as close as possible to a convenient entrance to such building and accessible to the physically disabled.
However, the use of schools for poll sites when school is in session can and often does disrupt the usual schedule and operations of the entire school day, as well as the instruction occurring in the classrooms. And, increased concerns about the safety of the children at the schools makes school officials reluctant to open up their buildings for a public use while children are present. It also reduces available parking when school is in session on election day.
By allowing the schools to be closed on election day, locally or statewide, as they currently are in New York City, this bill would increase the availability of accessible public buildings for poll sites while causing minimal disruption to a school and no security risk for students. ow in th schoolsr at isturbs the processes found in Election Law section 8-310 are outdated and no longer serve the needs of elections administrators and election day workers.
Amending section 8-312 by adding a new subdivision 6 authorizes the State Board of Elections to promulgate and modify regulations as necessary as new voting systems are deployed throughout the state. This will ensure common practices across the State, including with respect to ballot accountability, security and chain of custody.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : None FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None to the State.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None.
EFFECTIVE DATE : Immediately.