Proposed bill would let schools ‘opt out’ as polling sites

A state senator is demanding that schools be allowed to “opt out” as polling sites on Election Day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a conditional pardon allowing 24,000 parolees — including convicted rapists and pedophiles — to vote.

The Post reported Thursday that sex offenders on parole who are normally barred from getting within 1,000 feet of schools will be permitted to vote in Thursday’s primary elections even if the polls are inside a school building — but only after 7 p.m., when most students are gone.

State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Nassau County) said that’s not enough to protect kids from potential predators.

“We need to let schools decide if opening their doors puts children at additional risk, and if more suitable sites should be found for Election Day voting,” she said.

She said a growing number of schools have asked to be removed from designated lists of polling places following school shootings and Cuomo’s conditional pardon of parolees who are sex offenders.

She is proposing a bill to give them that power and it was quickly endorsed by Mineola’s school Superintendent Michael Nagler.

“This would allow districts like Mineola to work with the local community to find a more suitable location outside of school buildings…” Nagler said.
The bill also has the backing of the New York State Schools Boards Association.

“School districts should have the authority to take the steps necessary to keep our students and staff safe, and this bill represents an important tool to ensure that safety. We look forward to working with the senator to enact this bill,” said spokeswoman Julie Marlette.

Many polling sites in New York are in schools and finding suitable alternatives with comparable space would be a challenge.

Senate GOP leader John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) called Cuomo’s conditional pardons “the worst public policy misstep of his administration.”

“The governor has tacitly given sex offenders permission to show up at schools after 7 p.m . to cast their votes. But what happens when a Level 3 sex offender shows up at a school at 5 or 6 o’clock,, while football, soccer, cheer-leading, and girls volleyball practices are finishing up. Will he be allowed to vote early or will that monster be told to wait in the parking lot where he could come in contact with other potential victims?” Flanagan asked.

“Some politicians will do anything to win a few more votes and secure their election, but this one takes the cake,” he added.

Meanwhile, city Councilman Joe Borelli (R-S.I.) said he’s demanding answers from the NYPD and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza about how they will address student safety.

“We’re asking the NYPD how they’ll be able to discern sex offenders from normal folks, since we don’t have voter ID laws, and whether schools will cover any photographs or identifying information about students in publicly accessible areas,” said Borelli.

Cuomo’s office slammed the Republicans for scare-mongering.

“The bill is unnecessary,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi of the opt-out provision.

He insisted school superintendents already have the authority under current law whether to allow polling places in schools. “This is more fear-mongering from Republicans.
“New York has joined other 18 states — including the liberal bastion of Utah — that restored voting rights to the formerly incarcerated,” the governor’s spokesman added.

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