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Lawmaker Wants To Stop Using Schools As Polling Places

An Illinois Voter Casts Her Ballot. (Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images)

An Illinois Voter Casts Her Ballot. (Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A state lawmaker wants Illinois to stop using schools as polling places on Election Day, but the idea doesn’t sit well with local election authorities.

WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports hundreds of schools in Illinois are used as polling places, but state Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) has introduced legislation to put a stop to that practice.

Franks said it’s a matter of safety.

“Right now, if I want to go see my kids at school, I have to get buzzed in; as it should be, but for some reason, we don’t require that on Election Day,” Franks said. “We’ve been lucky that there hasn’t been a problem, but I don’t think that we should continue to press our luck.”

Cook County Clerk David Orr, who oversees election in suburban Cook county, said removing polling places from schools is a bad idea.

He said “it’s unfortunate” if Franks wants to stop using schools as polling places.

“We’d be in very serious shape if, in fact, this kind of approach actually went anywhere,” Orr said. “I don’t know where we’d find all the polling places necessary to hold an election if we didn’t have the schools.”

Franks said he’s not surprised to face opposition from election officials.

“Listen, bureaucrats always, always object when it requires them to do some more work and to think outside the box,” he said.

Orr shrugged off any such criticism.

“I don’t think county clerks are worried about the work. I think they work a lot harder than many folks I could refer to,” he said.

Orr said schools could plan to have an institute day, when classes are cancelled on Election Day.

Franks said firehouses, police stations, and post offices could be used instead of schools.