It’s not the candidates on the Super Tuesday ballot that have Loudoun County residents upset. It’s the fact that school will be in session while their supporters cast votes on campus.
Most of the county’s public schools serve as polling stations, and the primary election on Tuesday, March 1, is expected to draw the biggest turnout of any primary in recent history.
The Loudoun County School Board voted last week to delay school on March 1 by two hours, to let the morning Election Day rush pass before students arrive.
But parents have taken to social media, contacted School Board members and launched an online petition objecting to the decision to hold school at all that day. As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had close to 1,000 signatures.
Carisa Knox, who lives in South Riding, has concerns that anyone in the public will be able to enter schools that are usually locked down while students are present.
“These children are soft targets, and they have to use the same hallway that the polling precinct is in,” she said. “We can’t make sure everyone exits the building as soon as they vote. We simply can’t.”
In an online post announcing the two-hour delay, Loudoun County school officials said the Office of Elections advised them that the highest volume of voting typically occurs in the early morning and late evening, when students are not there.
Schools are in session for all elections except for the November elections, according to Loudoun County General Registrar Judy Brown said.
The presidential primary in 2008 saw 31.4 percent turnout. “And I believe schools were open,” she said.
Her office is predicting a higher-than-normal turnout of at least 30 percent. “Which is similar to the November 2015 turnout,” she said.
Either way, Knox plans to keep her children home on Super Tuesday. And she hopes other families will have the freedom to do the same.
“The easiest and most unobtrusive way for everyone to get what they want is to close the schools,” she said. “Make this simple. Keep the kids home.”
Calls to School Board members were not immediately returned.