There is, however, room for compromise.
Earlier this month, the Board of Registrars Chairperson Judith Blodgett called the idea “impractical” in a letter to the School Committee, saying voting locations should “remain as constant as possible, to avoid voter confusion and support voter turnout.”
The registrars offered to work with the School Committee members to address their concerns.
“Currently, the police presence at schools on Election Day is greater than at any other time of the year,” Blodgett wrote. “If this is still insufficient, we can discuss the option of providing additional security measures during school.”
Blodgett also suggested scheduling teacher development days for the primary elections in September, “just as this option is used for final elections in November, which means schools will be closed for the day.”
The registrars also proposed concrete changes: moving Ward 4, Precinct 3 from Peabody High School to Temple Beth Shalom; moving Ward 5, Precinct 1 from Kiley School to Temple Ner Tamid; moving Ward 5, Precinct 3 from McCarthy School to either Temple Ner Tamid or West Congregational Church; and moving Ward 6, Precinct 1 from West Memorial School to the West Congregational Church or the Community Covenant Church.
These are proposals worth considering, and it’s good to know there’s an avenue for compromise here (even if none of the religious institutions named above have agreed to house a polling place).
The School Committee should take the registrars’ offer seriously. It would be a shame — and a mistake — to upend a decades-long practice of having voters cast their ballots where much of their tax money is spent, and where the next generation of citizens is being shaped.