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(Slate)   The most bizarre polling places in America, from bowling alleys to tire shops   ( slate.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, polling places, Providence College, Rhode Island School of Design, tires  
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5864 clicks; posted to Main » on 06 Nov 2012 at 9:32 AM (5 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2012-11-06 11:15:24 AM  
3 votes:

Teresaol31: Mine too. Pisses me off every time I vote. Moreover, when I first moved to town and followed the "vote here" signs, it sent me to the actual sanctuary, rather than the church gym. I had to ask the church secretary, the only human in the main part of the church, for directions to get to the right building. I imagine that this leads to 1) people becoming frustrated and leaving before they get to vote and 2) being misdirected by the snotty church secretary if they "look like Democrats." I have expressed concern about this to multiple officials and I STILL do not understand why they can't use the local school gym instead. The answer I keep getting is, "this is where we've always voted." Bad answer.

Full disclosure: atheist (and Democrat). I'd rather vote outside a church too, but this isn't the First Amendment nightmare it sounds like.

For one thing, the churches have to be on board, whether they're volunteering the space or renting it. That may not matter to you, but the First is much more about protecting the autonomy of religious exercise than it is about you never having to dirty your shoes by walking inside a church. Likewise, the local school may not have been on board. I imagine the power of the election authority to force the matter varies from state to state, but there's no reason to assume the principal wants thousands of strange adults tramping through the school while it's in session.

As for the snotty church secretary profiling people, she could do that regardless of where the election was held. So few people volunteer as election workers that they'll take anyone. Stay tuned to the news today for a thousand petty stories of poll workers mysteriously forgetting their training and

* wearing partisan buttons
* demanding ID where none is required
* stealing blank ballots
* flushing completed ballots
* accidentally leaving boxes of ballots in their cars
* subtly racially profiling
* not-so-subtly racially profiling
* taking a group three-hour dinner break just when the factory lets out and all the workers come vote
* etc. etc.

You have to ask yourself why the church building taints the process. Is it because you believe there's a strong party affiliation of its members? Well, that may be your belief, and it may well be true. I'm positive that the skating rink I vote at (I know, right?!) skews more heavily Republican than my local area, in terms of its patrons. That kind of stuff doesn't matter as long as there's no harassment or overt electioneering. On the other hand, if you just think that a cross is a political statement--again, you might be right. But it's not an unambiguously partisan one. The cross would pretty much have to be on fire before a court would believe that it was interfering with someone's right to vote, and I can't say I disagree.

I get that going into a church may be personally distasteful. But that in and of itself isn't a meaningful barrier--if you don't want to vote badly enough that you can't bear to walk past some Sunday School posters, you don't want to vote at all.

On the other hand, if you really are being intimidated or screened, or if the priest is baptizing people as they walk in the door, or blowing incense over the voting machine, or glaring at infidels and incanting maledictions in eldritch tongues, call the Justice Department yesterday. Vote suppression is as vote suppression does, regardless of what building it's in.
2012-11-06 09:58:05 AM  
3 votes:
You titty babies crying about voting in a church make me laugh. I'm sure when you walked in to vote, the atheism detector at the door started going off and the little old ladies working the polls smacked you with a giant cross and shouted REPENT FILTHY SINNER, didn't they? Oh my goodness gracious, my constitutional rights were violated because I was exposed to the inside of a religious building! This is what Margaret Atwood warned us about!
2012-11-06 08:52:25 AM  
1 vote:
My polling place is at a church. I thought that was pretty odd considering there is suppose to be some separation, somewhere.
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