Open Door Election

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Two schools in Rockford serve as polling places. Principals from other schools say they don't have enough space and there's a safety issue as well.
Ellis Arts Academy is the only elementary school in Rockford that contains a polling center. It's democracy on display for the kids.
Ellis 5th grader Alexandria Champion says, "I was like what's going on, I was like oh it's voting day."
8th grader Evon Sams says, "Lots of people died for to get people the right to vote and it's great that you can show your appreciation by voting."
5th grader Renold Kent Ellis says, "I am really looking forward to voting when I am 18."
Ellis has continued polling here to help out the community and to get kids thinking about voting.
Ellis Principal Dr. Patrick Hardy says, "We think it's important for them to become familiar with the process early and see it as a part of their life."
Having a polling place in an elementary school can be a good learning experience, but it can also pose a serious safety concern. There's no one patrolling the front doors and that means anyone can walk in and go just about anywhere.
Says Hardy, "We assume that people who come in are here to vote but we don't know for sure. Next year just have someone at the door to make sure that the people coming in to vote are coming in to vote and we keep the kids safe."
Hardy says he can't assign anyone from his staff to the door. He'll ask the city to assign a bouncer next year.
Hardy says he hopes to continue polling at the school next election as long as he can be sure the kids are safe.


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