The Public Library as a Polling Place
Libraries make voting more accessible and inclusive.
With voting season just over the horizon, countless Americans are preparing to do their duty by participating in the electoral process while public institutions are working to accommodate them. One issue that always seems to plague voters and institutions alike, though, is a shortage of polling places, especially in small towns and low-income communities. To combat this, many libraries are temporarily converting parts of their buildings to polling stations. Let’s take a look at the benefits this practice provides to the community and our nation as a whole.
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Increased Voter Turnout
Many would-be voters in underrepresented communities simply don’t have the means to get to a polling place on Election Day, whether due to a lack of transportation or restrictive work hours. As polling stations may be extremely distant for these communities, it can simply be too expensive or take too long to arrive in time to cast a vote.
Libraries, however, are just about everywhere, and for most, the nearest library is easily accessible. As such, giving citizens the opportunity to vote at their local library removes the restrictions that typically come with more conventional polling places. The natural result is increased voter turnout, which more accurately reflects what the constituents want.
Greater Representation for Low-Income Communities
As mentioned above, those most severely impacted by lack of access to polling places are those in low-income communities. And ironically, it is they who stand to gain the most from being well-represented in an election. When libraries are used as polling places, and these communities gain greater access to voting, they’re much better equipped to push for the resources and support they need to improve their conditions, ultimately resulting in a healthier, more economically equitable nation.
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A Less Stressful Voting Process
When there’s a shortage of polling places, voting often turns from a simple civic duty into a mad dash to find a nearby station without a line wrapped around the building, and the stress of doing so turns countless citizens off of voting entirely. As we’ve covered, though, libraries make for extremely accessible polling places and help to reduce the massive lines that Election Day is known for, greatly reducing the stress and making it far easier for people to make a difference from the voting booth.
Serving as a polling place is only one of many things that libraries do each voting season to help make a difference. If you’d like to learn more about how they’re encouraging voter participation and enfranchisement and how you can support them, visit us at EveryLibrary today!
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