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Schools Take Precautions as Voters Head to the Polls - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Schools Take Precautions as Voters Head to the Polls

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When your child heads to school Tuesday, they could be coming dangerously close to a sex offender. The Republican presidential primary is Tuesday, and since schools often serve as polling places, they have to allow all registered voters in - even sex offenders.

It's a touchy topic. Four schools in Charlottesville, two in Greene County, five in Orange County, and several more across the state are acting as voting precincts for elections, with schools in session.

But a lot of people wonder why sex offenders are allowed to vote on school property in the first place. When schools open their doors for classes, parents know the law prohibits sex offenders from coming in.

In Virginia, it's clear - every adult convicted of a sexually violent offense is prohibited from entering or being present during school hours and during school-related activities. However, that law does not apply if the offender is registered and qualified to vote, and is coming on school property solely to cast their ballot.

It's a provision that has parents like Janet Ball worried. "As a mother and a grandmother, I do not want a sex offender anywhere near that school, no matter what," she said.

Virginia State Police say it's an issue for many school districts such as Greene County, but they say when it comes to Tuesday, it's out of their hands.  So schools are doing their best with the system they have.

"Some things I don't have control over, so I'm going to focus on what I do have control over, which is kids moving in and out of the school, making sure folks are going where they are supposed to go, nowhere else," said Greene County Superintendent David Jeck.

He says they will be taking extra precautions. When voters come to cast their ballots, they're asked to enter and leave through side gymnasium doors. School officials don't anticipate any type of contact at all between their students and voters. Doors will be locked from the gym to the school and extra hands will be on deck to keep voters away from kids.

Jeck even went on to explain that they are using this as a teaching to tool to help kids understand what all goes into the voting process, but a lot of people say keeping voters away from students isn't good enough. They want the law changed to keep sexual predators away from schools at all times.

"I think that they should be provided with an absentee ballot, that would take care of this issue," said voter Virginia Ferrell.

"But that's been the law, they have been allowed to in the state of Virginia for years, so hopefully that won't be an issue because you always worry you know, being a mother and grandmother myself, you constantly worry," said Greene County Registrar Sandra Shifflett.

On a positive note, the voting exception is only granted to those sexual offenders who have not been convicted of a felony. Anyone with a felony has their right to vote taken away all together.

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