Dougherty Schools prepare for Election Day - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty Schools prepare for Election Day

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

October 24, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Twenty-eight of Georgia's 180 public school systems will cancel classes Election Day.

That's because many school district's allow election officials to use their campuses as a polling location. Half of Dougherty County's polling locations are on school campuses including Albany State University and Darton College, but classes will be held November fourth.

Instead of cancelling classes schools are taking extra precautions. Locked doors and access only with a pass. That's what voters will find at Sherwood Elementary and 10 other polling locations within Dougherty County Schools come election day if they try to access the polls though the wrong door.

It's just one of the safety precautions school are planning for in anticipation of a record number of voters November fourth.

"Our voters have a certain area that will not impact our students. They will go to the gym and our gym is in an area where it's not heavy traffic," said Eva Robinson, Sherwood Elementary Principal.

More than 53,000 are registered to vote in Dougherty County, and with a predicted 90 percent turnout, schools worry parking and traffic could be big concerns, so they're planning ahead.

"Automobile traffic and parking are sometimes a bit of a problem, but we will have extra police on duty and we've asked the Albany Police Department to help with traffic and flow," said R.D. Harter, Dougherty County Schools Public Information Director.

Other precautions will include locking classroom doors inside the buildings to keep the noise down and in case voters get curious and make it past additional security. Schools also have a special request for drivers.

"Ask drivers to be especially careful around school zones that day, they will be voting before classes start in the morning that day and they will be voting after school ends," said Harter.

In many schools, students are just as enthusiastic about election day as registered voters.

"We have a mock election here ourselves to give the children an opportunity because believe it or not the children are involved they've heard a lot about the candidates," said Robinson.

With lines expected to start early and last all day and possibly past the polls closing time, school officials hope voters will be cautious and courteous on their campuses and bring a little patience.

Some schools have long given students election day off while other are adopting the policy this year because of anticipated high turnouts.

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