Your Take: Should we have polling places in churches?
Many polling places are in churches.
November 6th, 2012
06:45 PM ET

Your Take: Should we have polling places in churches?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - It's an election issue that gets virtually no attention, but we found out today that many of you do feel strongly about it: Churches being used as Election Day polling places.

A guest Belief Blog piece on the subject Tuesday morning, "My Take: Stop using churches as polling places," fetched more than a thousand comments, prompting us to ask Twitter followers to share their church-based voting experiences and pictures. Then we noticed the "My Take" rising to near the top of reddit politics, sparking a lively discussion there.

Lots of you who cast ballots inside a house of worship today were bothered by it. Others were bothered by the notion of church-based voting, whether or not you participated in it. A sampling of opposition to church-based voting:

[tweet https://twitter.com/reap3rx/status/265915592266096642%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/FlyByPC/status/265885633069846528%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/usaFreeDumb/status/265896038991265792%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/irasocol/status/265890682303045634%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/kkotchman/status/265897131766845440%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/jthom999/status/265888823853084672%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/KateKarwowska/status/265873201005985792%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/whiskyd/status/265869239473278976%5D

And from reddit:

Try for a moment to understand what another person may feel. As a gay man, I have been hounded my entire life by people who use their god and their religion to hurt me. I've been made out to be less than a person. I've been cut off from friends and family. I'm told that the way I love is sinful and evil, and I'm threatened with eternal damnation. Then imagine how it is for me that to practice my rights as an american citizen, I have to pass under the noses of the very people who condemn and judge me, in their own house, where they can be seen as figures of authority, where they're further pressuring me to be one of them, to join them, to believe what they believe.

It's wrong. It's so very inappropriate for them to use a political situation to their advantage to put that pressure on me. If they could stand by as impartial and open their doors simply as a building for work, maybe, but they don't.

Others didn't see what all the fuss was about. In fact, the comments on reddit were generally pro-church voting.

[tweet https://twitter.com/emhammar/status/265887419046457344%5D

From reddit:

This is silly, guys. First of all, churches don't host the voting process in their sanctuaries, they host them in their social halls, which are just as multi-purpose as any other rented public space. Secondly, what better place to set up voting booths on a Tuesday than the set aside rooms of a church. Public schools are in session, and there simply aren't enough state or community buildings to make polling in them a viable system, especially for the half of the country that lives in rural areas. Thirdly, if any place is "beating people over the head" with political slogans, etc. in a polling place, they're breaking the law. That happens just as much in "secular" polling locations as "religious" ones. As such, it's a red herring to throw that into the conversation.

This exactly. There are tons of churches around me, not many public buildings. My old district, I voted in a school, but there are no schools near my new district so we use the church's gym. Big deal, it makes voting more accessible.

I would also much rather vote in a church than have to wait 2 hours to cast my ballot. churches are much more plentiful than public buildings in most of the United States.

What's your take? Join the conversation in comments, Twitter, or reddit.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Church • Comments • Politics

soundoff (261 Responses)
  1. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    As I said yesterday, There is a better solution.

    Eliminate polling places.

    Inst;tute an alterative system using the internet or absentee paper ballots.

    Some states have already abandoned polling all together. Washington and Oregon are absentee vote only.


    No requirement to have to find polling stations, neutral or otherwise
    – this polling in a church hall question becomes entirely moot
    – no disruption to schools, fire stations, court houses etc
    No requirement for polling station volunteers
    No harrassment from electioneers outside the polling station
    – or pamphlets, signs etc
    No lines!
    No pressure to vote quickly from people behind you in line
    No impact on the work day for voters, students etc
    No impact on the elderly or people with mobility issues who struggle to get to the polls
    Simpler logistics – they are the same for everyone
    Convience: vote whenever you feel like it before election day.
    Comfort: sit down with the ballot and spread out the election material and make your choice at your own pace
    Consistency in vote tallying – none of this nonsense where equipment varies from precinct to precinct
    No issues with funky ballots (the infamous Florida butterfly ballot of 2000)
    No hanging chads!


    The biggest objections to this system are related to ballot secrecy with busybody spouses.
    Votes cast late by mail on election day do take longer to process (though no longer than existing absentee votes)
    Absentee ballots are more susceptible to voter fraud which is negligible for in-person voting.
    – This was not a big enough issue to prevent Oregon and Washington moving forward.
    There are some intangibles:
    – No one gives you an "I voted today!" sticker
    – The social component of braving crappy fall weather with your fellow citizens to vote is missing

    This is the 21st century. Voting, why is there no app for that?

    November 7, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  2. Shane

    Polling in churches is wrong for so many reasons. I was not aware that this even happened. Why is this allowed?

    November 7, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Yeah, it's like letting someone with a GED vote in a school.... oh wait.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  3. WordUpToo

    I've always found it creepy that I have to vote in a Lutheran church. The pastor (priest?) is always on hand, welcoming folks and inviting them to take brochures and tracts from a table conveniently set up with complimentary beverages and snacks. I don't like to be forced into their lair & tempted with treats while a semi-nude Jesus on a crucifix hangs over my head. Sure it's only a building, but for a non-believer (or someone of another faith) it's rather daunting & unwelcoming.

    November 7, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  4. Mormonism is a cult- FACT

    Wonder if we will still keep seeing "I believe in seer stones, magic discs and underwear and I am a Mormon" ads?

    November 7, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  5. steve s

    somehow I managed to escape voting in a church here in oklahoma, but at the same time my rights were violated by this state because they failed to place anyone other than a republican or democrat on the ballot. when i asked where the real ballot was with ALL of the candidates, i just got a stupid look and shrugged shoulders....

    November 7, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Mike from CT

      Bull, every ballot has the write in spot.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  6. Reality

    As noted many times before the election:

    Why the Christian Right no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country "ain't" going to help a "pro-life" presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, in 2012 as the "Immoral Majority" rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The "Immoral Majority" you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million "Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers" of aborted womb-babies" whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million "IM" voters in 2012.

    And the irony:

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the "Stupid Majority"?)

    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and S-TDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.


    November 7, 2012 at 8:23 am |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    November 7, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 7, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      November 7, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Pink Floyd: A Great Day for Freedom:

    I woke up to the sound of drums
    The music played, the morning sun streamed in
    I turned and I looked at you
    And all but the bitter residue slipped away...slipped away

    November 7, 2012 at 3:47 am |
    • Reality

      Obama again rode to the Blood-Red House on the backs of 39+million aborted womb-babies!!!

      (What BO can do to at least lift part of the Immoral Majority leader label?

      He says abortions should be "safe, legal and rare" but says nothing about the basic tenet of proper human conduct i.e. Thou Shalt Not Kill. And where is BO's sense of indignation that abortions are not rare and that these acts of horror demean the Golden Rule considering that he says he is a Christian. And where is his sense of indignation that women who use the Pill do not use it properly resulting in an failure rate of 8.7% as per the Gu-ttmacher Inst-itute statistics. Using these and other Gu-ttmacher Insti-tute data, this failure of women to use the Pill properly results in ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year. And the annual abortion rate in the USA is?? ~1,000,000 as per the CDC.

      And do males use co-ndoms properly? No, as said failure rate for this birth "control" method is 17.4%!! Again using Gu-ttmacher data, said failure rate results in another ~1,000,000 unplanned pregnancies every year.

      Bottom line: BO is still not aware of the basics of birth control and still remains the leader of the Immoral Majority and will remain so until he becomes a true Christian and one who respects and protects human life in all its forms and who at least emphasizes the proper use of birth control methods!!! )

      November 7, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Now perhaps we can breathe with relief knowing that the rights of the victims of legitimate rape can continue to escape God's will, at least over the next four years. And then who knows? Dare we hope for four Supreme Court appointees?

      November 7, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  9. Unbelievable

    What the fuck is with Florida? They still haven't figured out who won there. And Dade County had a lot of problems with their polling places and machines again. Twelve years after making world-class fools of themselves, they still can't handle an election?

    November 7, 2012 at 2:52 am |
  10. Rodents for Romney

    Well all you religious fundies.
    Not such a hot night for the Lord's chosen now was it ?
    Didn't you pray hard enough ?
    Oh wait. It was societal change. Never mond.

    November 7, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Answer

      Congratulations to the United States for standing up to the would be religious tyrants and their bat-sh-it zealots and for shutting them up!

      Good news and may the US finally get going on it's recovery. We Canadians are rooting for ya!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      The thing is, the US IS "going" on it's recovery. Two things are not discussed.
      a. there ARE millions of jobs going begging because the US education system is SO fvcked up, that the specific skills employers need are not being trained for. There ARE jobs, just no one trained to fill them. In a post industrial society, specialization is required. A GED is simply not going to get you anywhere. We need highly technical training en mass.
      b. The US economy is still undergoing a paradigm shift from manufacturing to service. Partly "a" is involved, but partly the "off shoring" to cheaper labor is still seen as bad. It isn't really, IF the highly specialized jobs are filled, and iF the service jobs requiring training are filled.
      It's all about education, and the baloney has come home to roost. The US would rather fight about Creationism, than actually get the job done. It's our own fault.

      November 7, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      And of course the politicians are in the pockets of the Wall Street bankers. Regulation of greed is STILL not even begun. NOT one banker from the bank scandal has gone to prison, or even been put on trial.

      November 7, 2012 at 5:44 am |
    • truth be told

      Poor leadership is Gods curse on a nation. A Christian had no choice in the election, Mormons are anti – Christ and the alternate was infanticide and abomination.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • End Religion

      tbt, the only curse you suffer from is self-inflicted stupidity. But you can change that. Get rid of your religion. Go read some books that don't have the word "god" in it.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  11. End Religion

    Gay marriage passed in Maryland. Hurray for you folks!

    November 7, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • The amazing seer condoms of Joseph Smith

      Yes, it is a sad, sad night in Utah.

      And soon, the Supeme Court will either take the case of Proposition 8, and they almost certainly will be stuck with the equal protections clause, or they will decline to hear it, in which case the Proposition is dead and gay marriage is legal in California. Either way, all that Mormon money went down the political toilet, only to buy the opposite result.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • End Religion

      Let them look at it with rose-coloured glasses and be satisfied all the money must have stimulated the economy in some way. Yes, I am leaving this talk of "gay marriage" combined with my use of the word "stimulated" for all of you to come up with a creative joke.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Rodents for Romney

      Maine also ? The MN amendment against will be defeated.
      Washington and Colorado have approved marijuana.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • End Religion

      with all this weed and gay marriage passing, they're due for one rocking honeymoon!

      November 7, 2012 at 1:14 am |
  12. Apple Bush

    Tomorrow there will be crickets chirping on this blog and I will like it very mcuh.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Tom

      I dunno. Crickets can be kina loud.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  13. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    All of these houses of "worthless worship" should be voluntarily converted to recreation facilities, polling places, parks and/or parking lots.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  14. Ah, what fun!

    Even Fox News has called Obama the winner.


    Good Christian Mourdock lost. PRAYER DIDN'T WORK!!!!!

    Good Christian Akin lost. PRAYER DIDN'T WORK!!!!!!

    No Republican Senate. PRAYER DIDN'T WORK!!!!

    November 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Chick-a-dee

      I think that you forget that folks on the blue side of the aisle pray too...obviously ours we answered affirmatively.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • End Religion

      lol, chick, you don't pay attention, do you?

      November 7, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  15. Sick

    This nation has gone stupid! We're about to fall off a fiscal cliff. Employment will take even more of a nosedive. Four more years of record deficits. Just makes me want to barf. What is wrong with America? Down with freakin blue people.

    November 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      Republicans, bush's eight years put us in the debt you dipsh•t.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      You need to get out of bed with the christian right. It is your own damn fault. Garbage in garbage out.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • Sick

      Already forgotten Obama's many empty promises I see. Who's been in charge the last four years? Who had congress on his side and still allowed the economy to tank? Who raised the national deficit more than Bush? Blue people are just stupid!

      November 6, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Judas is my homeboy

      Trollolololo, your are sick.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • Paul

      Congratulations! You are the first of the "sour grapes" righties to come whining and snivelling with your bitter got-your-butt-kicked resentments. We'll see a lot of that for the next few weeks. What fun!!

      November 6, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Sick

      So tell me, blue people, what have you done? Our economy is in the gutter and more people are about to lose their jobs over the fiscal cliff. With an election this close with the popular vote, did you think anything would get better? It will be stalemate for four more years! You could've elected someone who had actually run successful businesses. You could've picked a moderate. Now we get four more years of the same. Great job blue people! Hope we still own our country when Obama's finally kicked out.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Sick

      Have your fun, Paul. I'll be laughing when you lose your job because of your stupid decision. I remember Democrat's bitterness after the 2000 election, so pot, kettle, black.

      November 6, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      The Republicans need to take a page out of their own playbook and take some personal responsibility for their failure.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • Sick

      Nope. I blame it on ignorant "Obama gives me a tingle in my leg" and "I vote for Obama because he's black" who should never ever vote again. Who are Democrats? Blue-collar high school graduates, inner city welfare addicts, non-charitable Hollywood actors, immature and rebellious youths, and immoral atheists. Go figure. Hope we can get out of the mess this president is and will continue to make. Oh for more intelligent voters....sigh

      November 7, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • End Religion

      sick, careful what you wish for. Intelligent voters put a boot in your red ass tonight. More of them will whomp you worse in the future. I want to see sheepish Eddie Munster give a concession speech.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Paul

      The really funny thing is all the conservative bitterness in 2008 once they realized what they had done and how badly they had blown it in 2000 (and 2004). Even you feel the need to say "as bad as Bush!"

      November 7, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheese makers

      You don't get it sick. I am one of those 'immoral atheist' .....that owns his own business....and didn't vote for Obama....you aren't going to win that way.

      November 7, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • MCR

      @Sick, I've got to agree with Blessed, if you hadn't tied your economics to Christian social agendas the vote would have swung your way. Lucky for the rest of us your party doesn't have the guts to divorce the two.

      November 7, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  16. Kristen

    I haven't read the other posts, but were any other places of worship used as a polling site? I had to vote at St. Finbar's church in Brooklyn, and I found it quite ironic. As if there isn't any other location available......

    November 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • saggyroy

      I live out in the country and I am atheist. I was thinking that I didn't voting in the church, but there are not enough facilities that can handle it where I live.

      November 7, 2012 at 6:23 am |
  17. All the News That's Fit To Invent!

    This just in . . . FOX News projects that Christine O'Donnell has won the presidency!!!

    November 6, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  18. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Apple Bush,

    You seem to carry weightiness in your word. Your main fallacies are tenured to say the least. May your journeys amid Life's wasted be placid and of a calming way and may you hardly ever get sidetracked in you aim of wanting peace above the pieces of the broken and lamely. For the God who resides in your body is not my body's God nor are our bodies' Gods other peoples Gods. It's one God to one body in my Book!

    Let Us Love,
    Love Lettuce,

    November 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Frontal Lobotamy,

      Bottle in Front of Me,


      November 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  19. CS

    There used to be a bath house in OKC right across the street from the Methodist private university, Oklahome City University. They went Red again this election. Just sayin'.

    November 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  20. End Religion

    church-goers should be forced to vote in San Franciscan bath houses.

    November 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Come Out! Come Out Wherever You Are!

      Why would you want to polute a perfectly good bath house like that?

      November 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • End Religion

      You're right. It's just inviting a law suit when some poor old lady slips on a pool of jizz on her way to the ballot box.

      November 6, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Amsdorf

      That would be great. Then the believers could witness to the sinners there and save a few souls while waiting to vote for righteous candidates.

      November 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.