After a gunman opened fire and killed 26 people in a Connecticut elementary school administrators were given a harsh reminder that some aspects of safety are out of their control. Illinois lawmakers are trying to keep a little bit of that control by changing up Election Day. A bill currently being introduced in the General Assembly could change your local polling place if it's a K-12 school.
"On Election Day, nothing's locked up. It's just opened and we have good solid citizens who are doing their duty and voting, but that shouldn't mean that somebody with less than honorable intentions can just calmly walk through the door and cause some real trouble." -says Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka.
Some Illinois legislators say this gets our state ready for the worst.
"We can probably predict with certainty that at some point in time we will have another Sandy Hook [shooting]. We don't like to think about that, but we need to be prepared and I think this bill is a good start." -says 45th District Senator Tim Bivins.
Lawmakers say there are alternatives for voting locations other than buildings like Rockford's 6th Ward Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Academy polling place.
"Police stations, fire stations, even post offices. There are other places we can have it besides our schools." -says 63rd District Representative Jack Franks.
According to police, criminal activity inside schools isn't the only risk. Mixing voters and small children is also a problem outside those doors.
"You've got people coming in and out of the parking lots, intermingling with kids and it's just a traffic safety hazard for these young people." -says Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Director John Kennedy.
Topinka adds because polling places will most likely be moved to government buildings there will be minimal to no cost in making this switch. Lawmakers in support of this bill hope to get it passed by spring and implemented in time for 2014 elections.
Several Illinois lawmakers joined several members of law enforcement Tuesday to announce legislation that would remove polling places from public and private schools.
Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, State Representative Jack Franks, and State Senator Tim Bivins joined law enforcement leaders and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police to announce the legislation. The goal of the measure is to protect students.
The bill would get remove public and private schools as options for voting sites and remove language from the state Election Code and state School Code that requires districts to make buildings available for polling places.
Similar bans are being discussed in Indiana, New York, and Virginia.
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