Apparently I'm not the only one concerned that the Madison Central School District is pushing the boundaries of election law as it tries to stack the vote on the $16.9-million new gym and high school renovation in its favor. Secretary of State Jason Gant says he has heard from several concerned citizens (I was not one of them) about the conduct of our vote. He has thus issued this press release to "remind" election officials of polling place requirements.
School districts are within their rights under South Dakota law to designate school buildings as polling places. However, special care must be taken to make sure there are no outside influences on the voting process. In the case where a school activity is being conducted at the same location and it requires admission, the voter cannot be charged to vote. Also, food and beverages shall not be available within the polling place. The polling area should be clearly marked and accessible without voters being interfered with in any way to access the voting area [Secretary of State Jason Gant, press release, 2011.01.14].
No food or beverages within the polling place: I wonder if that means just the room where the ballots are or the entire building. If I can walk from the basketball game concession stand to the ballot table with a hot dog and a Coke in my hand, is that a problem?
Alas, Secretary Gant has not chosen to comment on staging voting in private workplaces or displaying electioneering materials in buildings where voting takes place. Stay tuned....
(p.s.: I have heard the middle school kids have made posters saying "Vote Yes for MHS" to hang in the halls. Anyone care to comment?)