I live two blocks from my children's elementary school in Greendale. On election day I walk to pick up my two children from school and cast my ballot - all at the same location. It's convenient as hell...
Nobody asks me any questions as I walk right in the wide open door. An elderly man wearing American flag stickers on his tweed sport jacket greets me and points me toward the cafeteria where I stand in line for all of two minutes and cast my ballot. Then I grab a couple "I voted" stickers for my kids, snatch them from them classroom and walk right past an 18 year old auxiliary police officer who is still battling acne and is sitting on a chair in the hallway. He never once looks up. I go outside to find an elderly woman has parked her car ON the playground and is virtually blocking the four year old kindergarten exit. Apparently Highland View was out of handicap parking spots. No one asks her to move.
The bell has rang and hundreds of children, all under the age of 10 are leaving school in a fury of energy and mayhem. The handicapped woman is now trying to back her over-sized Buick out of the parking lot, navigating between two parked school buses and meandering children.
Citizens who have just voted now roam the hallways taking unannounced, self-guided tours of the school to see what improvements have been made over the years. Little kids stare up at the strange faces passing them in the hallway.
Casting my ballot at my children's school is easy and a luxury...one I would give up in a heartbeat to ensure the safety of my kids.
The world has changed since 1938 when Greendale was founded, and America has forever changed since Sandy Hook. Allowing an open door policy on election day, but having tight-knit security every other school days makes no sense what-so-ever. It is time to find alternative locations for voting and remove that burden and potential danger from our schools.
The school district, the board, the administration, the teachers and the PARENTS have been asking for this change for years. And since Sandy Hook the concerns have been taken to a whole new level. The Greendale School District has asked the Village of Greendale to find alternative polling stations before the fall election. The trustees have show very little interest in doing so.
Privately each trustee I have spoken with said they agree with removing voting from the elementary schools, but they also worry about angering the Greendale eldery, who vote more often than busy parents. Privately the trustees have confided in me that they share my concern of safety and upsetting the structure of the school day, but publicly they have refused to look for alternate locations.
The trustees say some citizens claim their tax dollars go towards our public schools so they should be able to use the facilities for voting. Using that logic, my tax dollars as a home-owner in Greendale go towards the fire station so I should be able to hold my kid's birthday parties in their and use the pole to let them slide down for fun.
School buildings are meant to educate our children and their doors should not be left wide open on election days just because it is a tradition. Other nearby municipalities get that - Franklin has never held elections in schools. Muskego is moving elections out of schools. Oak creek is finding alternative polling stations after their city clerk stated, "In a post-Sandy Hook world, schools might not be the best place for such a large number of people to stream in and out."
In Greendale, our clerk seems more concerned with not having to alter some people's traditions than she does about the safety of our children.
Changing a tradition is not easy and sometimes doing what is right is not always what is most popular. It was tradition for more than 125 years to not allow women to vote in this country. It was tradition to not allow African Americans to vote for almost the first 200 years of our existence as a nation. Changing both of those disturbing "traditions" was unpopular at the time, but now we look back and wonder why it took so long.
It takes courage to go against tradition and for one am all for starting a new tradition - a tradition of putting safety and common sense before convenience.
"Faced with what is right and to leave it undone shows a lack of courage."
Will the Village of Greendale Trustees find their courage from within and start a new, better tradition?
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