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. solde sac longchamp

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    November 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Strip clubs would be a better poling place than churces.

    November 9, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  3. Nietodarwin

    I guess this didn't happen in Utah, mormons don't let people in their churches. Glad Romney and the Talibangelicals lost. Write the governors and officials and get this practice abolished.
    Religion is so disgusting

    November 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  4. Nietodarwin

    Another violation of church and state separation. I was disgusted to have to vote in a baptist church, but VERY happy with the election results. I'm in CO, and wrote of my disgust to Gov. Hickenlooper. Hope this changes before the next elections in 2 years.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  5. Denise M.

    I voted in a church. I live in a rural area, where house & building numbers are hard to read from the street. Finding churches is much easier with their large signs or marquees. I am a pagan. I wasn't uncomfortable going to a church to vote, but I can certainly understand other people feeling that way.

    November 9, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      I am one of those people, but "uncomfortable" does not describe the way I feel. I feel disgusted and angry, and will now write a letter to the Governor of my state.

      November 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  6. 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 9, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  7. alfuso

    A PS. I am an Atheist and having Polling places in a church doesn't bother me.

    My local voting place was moved from a VFW Hall to a Church recently.

    Voting should be easy and anything that lends to the process should be encouraged.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:50 am |
  8. alfuso

    growing up, many Polling Places were in Churches or Schools. They often were the only places with 1. the room and 2. that people could get to easily.

    It's never bothered me.

    November 9, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  9. phil

    Here in Washington state, we all vote by mail. No long lines, no inappropriate polling stations, no voter intimidation. Why is this not a quick and painless solution for everyone?

    November 9, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  10. steven Green

    How about closing schools on election day. A)parents can teach their kids about voting and B the public would have a neutral place to vote. Ban all church voting!

    November 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  11. Thomas Paine

    Voting in a church has long disturbed me. I'm somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic, but even if I was not I believe I would not feel comfortable voting in a church, much like I wouldn't feel comfortable voting in Democratic HQ or Republican HQ. Churches increasingly take political stands, in violation of their nonprofit status– it's time to end their psychological pressure on innocent voters.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  12. DDM

    Churches pay no taxes. Therefore churches need to serve ALL the public in many ways, since they are getting the freebie.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • alfuso


      November 9, 2012 at 6:52 am |
  13. Amy

    A church is not a neutral location, therefore it shouldn't be eligible as a voting location. I don't know of any community that doesn't have a fire station, city hall, school, or other public facility that could serve as a polling place.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Bob

      The fire station is out because setting up a polling place would interfere with there abilities to respond in an emergency. City hall is not feasible because of security concerns not to mention that ID requirements may cause some voters to be dis-enfranchised. Schools might be viable, however they are usually in session during voting. Plus many parents might be concerned due to the political nature of the event, and the disruption it could cause. Closing school for the day is not unreasonable, but consider also the process of setting up and tearing down the polling place may required more than one day. Also since children are not in school, parents may find it difficult to find childcare in order to vote. Many other public places may not be as easy to find, limited in their accessibility, and facilities and perhaps not even available for use. Its not perfect, but churches provide ALL of the requirements of a polling place. Accessibility, easy to locate, adequate parking and facilities, readily available and cost effective. Don't allow your personal distaste for something to make you blind tologic.

      November 11, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  14. Jesus is the most powerful figure known to mankind (Fact)

    Why do Christians and atheist constantly fight and debate each other? @ Christians: All who believe in the Son of God was chosen and destined to be children of God before the world was created. If you are a TRUE Christian you should accept this simple truth. John 8:47-"He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God." Why argue with fools? Why argue with children of death? Why argue with people who are and will no longer be? Why argue with the ones who will be forever forgotten and seperated from the Living God and His children? @ Atheist: Why argue with Christians? You cannot provide the smallest piece of evidence proving the non-existence of a Creator. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE. @ Christians go to the right, @ atheist go to the left. Agree to disagree. Soon enough the truth will be revealed to everyone. If you are elected as the Son og God says, you will come to the light and the truth will not be hidden from you. If you were not elected the truth will be kept from you due to the hardness of your hearts and the blinding power of your father satan. Remeber it is God who chooses us first to come to Him. Love Him who first loved us.

    November 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  15. Eric

    I'd be OK with voting in a house of worship, as long as all the different religions were represented, and TAXED!

    November 8, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
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    November 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  17. Kathy

    I also have felt uneasy, particularly with the political signs in front if the church. (I'm more concerned about politics poisoning the church than the other way around.) But in some rural areas, there may not be as many options, so it's better to have access so that one can do his civic "duty". Nevertheless, I think we wouldn't even be discussing this if it were not for the fact that the right wing has corrupted the message of Christ in such a way as to turn off so many people...including people who basically believe in treating others with respect and honoring each person's right to self-determination.

    November 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  18. Art

    Our polling place is in a Christian School's gym near my home. I'm Jewish, and I feel that there's nothing wrong with voting there. I didn't feel any intimidation or discomfort. In fact the priest that was there was nicer than the polsters working.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  19. brian

    i was forced to vote in church because of the conservative community i live in. But i also spit on the floor on the way out so it's all good. I wanted to crap on the virgin mary statue too but i felt that was crossing the line.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Bob

      I commend you sir, for being such a wonderful example of "tolerance and acceptance".

      November 11, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  20. brian

    voting in a church makes as much sense as teaching religion in school. keep YOUR religion out of OUR government.

    November 8, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Eric

      Amen to that!

      November 8, 2012 at 6:57 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.