May 02, 2014 Super Tuesday: Two Election Day Issues
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
In anticipation of the upcoming Budget Vote and Board of Education Election, we wanted to address two sensitive and important issues.
I. Poll Watchers
This area of school district election law remains somewhat unclear. There is no provision in the Education Law authorizing, entitling or requiring the appointment of poll watchers during an election. The Commissioner of Education has, however, held that a school board candidate in a district with a system of personal registration is authorized to select poll watchers.
Regardless of whether a district is required to allow poll watchers, we do not recommend that you deny a candidate’s request because any “qualified voter” (including candidates, their supporters, and current board members) may be present at the polling place and make appropriate challenges to the qualifications of voters. No person, including a poll watcher, is permitted to engage in electioneering within the polling place or interfere with or disrupt an election.
School districts may develop written guidelines regarding the selection and conduct of poll watchers. Those school districts that already have formal policies in place should comply with them. Any newly developed or amended guidelines or policies should be kept simple to avoid increasing the burden on the district and, instead, help control the orderly flow of the election. They should also be publicized before the voting begins.
II. Building Security
We know that security is a heightened concern for every school district. We recommend that you review your security procedures and protocols in preparation for the days when school buildings are to be used as polling places for school and general elections. This review should include an analysis of all applicable election and security plans, policies and regulations, including the district’s code of conduct. Any inconsistencies, oversights or other issues should be discussed and resolved prior to the day on which voting is to be held.
Please contact us if you have any specific questions or concerns relating to your compliance with current policies and procedures or if you would like us to review or help you create or update your policies and procedures regarding poll watchers or building security.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN THE GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2014
 In a district that has adopted a system of personal registration, voters register prior to an election with a county’s board of elections, with a district’s board of registration or, if the district has adopted a system of continuous personal registration, in the office of the district clerk or business office. The alternative to a system of personal registration is poll registration.
 A “qualified voter” is a person who is a citizen of the United States, at least18 years old, a resident of the school district for at least 30 days prior to the election, and not otherwise prohibited from voting pursuant to the Election Law.