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:
And from reddit:
Others didn't see what all the fuss was about. In fact, the comments on reddit were generally pro-church voting.
What's your take? Join the conversation in comments, Twitter, or reddit.
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.
As long as there is no pressuring or advertising for specific candidates in churches, nor overt religious activities going on at the same time as voting, there is no reason why churches shouldn't be used. The question is whether they need to be used. If they are open, empty on the weekday, located conveniently, and easy to find in the community, not to mention free, then it seems like a good savings of government funds to use them for voting.
Some churches opt out and choose not to let their facilities be used for voting, but for those that offer their space we would be stupid not to use it. If voters are uncomfortable voting there they can vote at another location.
I only had to vote in a church once, in San Diego, and yes, it was right at the altar/stage, not in a gym or social hall. As a non believer, it was very uncomfortable. There are public elementary schools in pretty much every neighborhood in the country (there are two within walking distance of that church.) If it's close enough to homes to accommodate daily attendance by our youngest kids, it's close enough for voters. Schools can cancel gym class one day every couple years when election day comes around, and a school gym can handle multiple small precincts if needed. I've seen it done in other states.
I don't like it.
Religion has been the scourge of our nation. And you'll note it's red/Repulican run states which don't want to implement Obamacare. Why? Because sick people without the science of modern medical treatment have to turn to religion and god (which has scientifically been shown to do nothing to heal the sick). People who become ensconced in religion have a tendency to believe that this life is just something temporary and are more wiling to endure the Republican policies which keep them down and disheveled because they just KNOW they are going to have a paradise life after they die.
Given that religions have become more and more bold and blatant about 'encouraging' people to vote a certain way (even downright demanding it in some instances), it is HIGHLY inappropriate for polling places to be held in a church. They need to find more appropriate locations like schools and libraries. If a church is the only option then they need to ensure that all religious symbols are taken down or covered and that there are absolutely NO messages what-so-ever in view of those who come in. 'Accidentally' leaving a message around should be subject to stiff fines.
I voted at a site located on chuch property on Tuesday. There was ample parking, the multi-purpose room was spacious, the volunteers were courteous and helpful and all went smoothly. No problems.
My polling site has changed half a dozen times in the last 10 years. This one was perfect.
I have no porblem whatsoever with a using church property as a polling site.
The problem with it is that they are tax exempt. This means they are not allowed to be involved in politics at all. Any place that is tax exempt and has political signs on their property or is being used as a polling place (which I have never heard of until now) should be reported to the IRS and have their tax exempt status revoked.
I have been a pollworker since the 2008 primary. I have worked in polls located in public schools, in a homeowners association clubhouse, and this election, in a church recreation room. I don't see any problem, the church did not in any way attempt to influence the election. The pastor did drop by at one point in time to make sure that everything was going ok, and I guess that perhaps a secretary might have been on duty in the office, although I could state that as a fact, but otherwise church personnel were not visible at all.
BYW, public schools here used election day as a teacher workday, so school was not in session at any of the schools used as polling places. For other elections, where turnout is much lower, schools do remain in session with little problem.
They host them in their social places but during a presidential election, the line might have to go into the sanctuary (like it did in 2008 – I moved and voted in a school this year). Of course the church I voted in, in 2008, was a small United Methodist church, and they didn't have any pamphlets out or inappropriate decorations. There were of course, the stained glass, and the cross, but that's it.
I think the question is kinda silly. they set up in the social hall or gym. It is a building where you vote, it is not like your sitting in a pew having to pray against your will. Really
There is a misunderstanding here. This about a BUILDING that hosts a local group of people with the same beliefs. A church building could very well be a home or gym or community buiding. A church is a group of people associating together. I would not have a problem voting in mosque because I know it is just a building.
In my rural area, there are not many large buildings suitable for voting. You do not want thousands of people at school gyms (big saftey issue). People at fire stations could slow down first responders; vacant commercial buildings are not constant from year to year. Unless tax dollars are used to buy buildings that are used a few times a year – using church BUILDINGS makes the most sense.
NO PROBLEM!! First lets define "church". My polling place was a church, but actually done in their gym!! Did you vote in the church itself, or an out building on their property? And you cannot argue the point of "separation between church & state"! Just look at this election and HOW MUCH we heard about religion being thrown in the mix! You cannot have it both ways! For me, the ONLY problem would be if the "church" you were voting at, tried to interact, in any form, to bring religion into the environment! You are there to vote, not get a sermon!
Frankly, as a staunch church/state separatist and total atheist, I just can't find a serious problem with a church (or any other sectarian building) being used as a polling place if it is offered for that community purpose.
It's just a building on election day and it certainly does not impact my vote.
The only real problem in my view are that churches often do leave out technically non-partisan, but very politically-charged materials that voters must pass by like fliers for Adoption Over Abortion or Building A Traditional Family. I would hope for most people it wouldn't matter, but it can be intimidating and unduly influential for some.
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.
We should have polling places in mosques too.
I can understand how this can lead to a lot of frustration but I know I live in a small town in Georgia and there just isn't a building big enough for public elections except churches. Hard to believe but it's true! I definitely think if churches can be avoided as polling places they should be though...
Religion has absolutely no place in government.
Likewise, religious places have absolutely no place in government.
Or, to phrase it more simply, "eeeewwwww ick no!"
We sure have come a long way since the language of the First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." No action by Congress. No law. No religion established. Seems to me a fair gesture by churches who are tax-exempt. There is virtually no place that would offend SOMEONE who enters. Having to vote in a gymnasium might offend me in that I don't exercise enough, and don't want to be reminded of it. Vegetarians might not want to vote in a cafeteria where meat is sold, etc.
Too many people seem to be LOOKING to be offended.
This would be unnecessary. Just put them were there is local convenience and not based on a religion of any sort.
The churches ARE the local conveniences and has nothing to with the religion of the church.
Of course churches shouldn't be polling stations, and usually the only reason they are is that they offer the space "for free" - that is, they set aside their tax-exempt space for public use on Election Day - wow, how nice of them. /snark
Here in alaska, we do not have enough schools or other buildings. we recently moved to a new district and our polling place was in a church. even as a christian, I felt kind of wierd, but it was kept very professional.
It's a sad situation when there are more Houses of Delusion than suitable public buildings. . .
OG, true, but that is a different issue.
Absolutlely NOT! If we use the church as a vehicle for public processes, we open ourselves, justifiably, for the church to use public facilites for religious processes. To be fair, the church was built with private funds by people professing faith in a particular religion. Public facilites are paid for by all the people, regardless of faith. Get out of the churches and stay out. They do not belong to the public.
Actually public facilities can be used for religious purposes if they are open for use by groups or individuals.
I don't think of it as a big deal, but I have lived on military bases most of my life and the church is used for services on the weekend, training, ceremonies etc during the week. I voted in a church yesterday. Without a minister and a congregation it just seemed like another building to me.