Bill Improving Election Day Security for Schools and Senior Residential Centers Approved by Senate

Today, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Angela McKnight that would permit police officers to be present at a public school or senior residential center being used as an election polling place if requested. The bill, S-2531, would also require schools serving as polling places to develop Election Day security plans to ensure the safety of students.

“Changes in protocol on election day that allows the public to enter schools and senior residential centers present an increased security risk to students, senior residents, staff, and poll workers,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex/Hudson). “Given the continued threats of violence against election workers and our schools, extra security is necessary. By permitting these locations to request the presence of a police officer in plain clothes and requiring school Election Day security plans, staff, poll workers, and parents can have peace of mind knowing that our children and elderly populations are protected.”

To avoid voter intimidation, police officers assigned to a public school or senior residential center being used as a polling place must be in plain clothes. Any interference by an officer of a law-abiding person present to vote is prohibited.

“In anticipation of upcoming elections, safeguarding our schools and senior residences that are used as polling centers is paramount,” said Senator McKnight (D-Hudson). “This bill will give these polling locations an extra security measure they can use at their discretion.”

Additionally, schools serving as polling places must develop security plans to ensure students’ safety as community members come into the building to cast their ballots. This includes designating an area where voting can take place that is locked and separate from the rest of the school if the school is in session at the time of the election.

The bill was approved by the Senate in a 37-0 vote.

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