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Bill would address security concerns for communities that hold voting at schools

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows is supporting a bill that seeks to address security concerns of municipalities that use local schools as polling sites.

Bellows told a legislative committee on Wednesday that some school districts have recently voiced concerns about operating as a voting site during the day, in one case just weeks after responding to school shooting threats.

Some towns have pushed to move voting locations out of their schools, but Bellows says finding alternate sites with adequate parking and accessibility can be a challenge.

Bellows is pushing for a new bill that would create a working group to study the issue.

"And then identify possible changes to a statute, to protect voter accessibility and safeguard the security of schools used as a polling place, and then make those recommendations," Bellows says.

Bellows says one possible solution would be for school districts to make election day an in-service day, meaning students would have the day off.

Some Republicans on the Legislature's veterans and legal affairs committee pushed back on the bill, saying that schools and municipalities already have the authority to make decisions around polling sites, without the need for legislation.