Election Day school closings are being planned in several states out of what The Associated Press called fear of possible polling place violence.
"Rigged elections. Vigilante observers. Angry voters. The claims, threats and passions surrounding the presidential race have led communities around the U.S. to move polling places out of schools or cancel classes on Election Day," the news service said in the opening of its exclusive report. "The fear is that the ugly rhetoric of the campaign could escalate into confrontations and even violence in school hallways, endangering students."
The AP cited concerns over Donald Trump's call for his supporters to stand guard against fraud at some polling locations and the recent bombing of a Republican Party office in a North Carolina county have raised the worries about potential violence on Nov. 8.
Ed Tolan, police chief of Falmouth, Maine, where classes have been canceled on Election Day, told the AP that he believed the tension from the election is concerning.
"If anybody can sit there and say they don't think this is a contentious election, then they aren't paying much attention," Tolan said.
MassLive.com noted in 2014 that schools are already closed in 10 states on Election Day: including Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.
The AP said some schools in Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other places have opted to close Nov. 8, as well.
Trump this month was calling on his supporters to turn out and monitor polling places because of voter fraud and a possible "rigged" election outcome, said The New York Times.
"Voter fraud is all too common, and then they criticize us for saying that," Trump said Oct. 18 at a Colorado Springs rally, per the Times. "But take a look at Philadelphia, what's been going on, take a look at Chicago, take a look at St. Louis. Take a look at some of these cities, where you see things happening that are horrendous."
Trump blamed the firebombing of the Republican office in Orange County, North Carolina earlier this month on supporters of Hillary Clinton, said the Charlotte Observer. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory called the bombing an "attack against our democracy," added the newspaper.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp told the AP that the potential for violence in public spaces has increased and schools with classrooms full of children are not immune.
"There is a concern, just like at a concert, sporting event or other public gathering, that we didn't have 15 or 20 years ago," said Kemp, co-chairman of the National Association of Secretaries of State election committee. "If that happens at a school, then that's certainly concerning."
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