On Tuesday, Americans will cast their votes to bring to an end what feels like the fiercest presidential election cycle in recent history.
For many, that will mean traveling to nearby schools, which often serve as voting locations because of they offer large facilities and an abundance of parking.
This year, however, the Associated Press is reporting that communities across the U.S. are choosing to move “polling places out of schools or cancel classes” over fears that “the ugly rhetoric of the campaign” could lead to violence erupting in school hallways, putting students in dangerous situations.
In communities that have already been hit by instances of seemingly politically-motivated violence, the reasons schools have chosen to close are crystal clear.
For example, in Johnson County, North Carolina — where a Republican Party office was firebombed in October — schools have made the decision to close on Election Day. Schools in Illinois, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin are reportedly following suit.
Ed Tolan, the police chief in one Maine community that’s decided to cancel classes, seemed to sum up why such decisions are being made:
“If anybody can sit there and say they don’t think this is a contentious election, then they aren’t paying much attention.”
While many in the media have pointed the finger at “Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the election is rigged” for why tensions are running so high:..
— Kansas Dems (@KansasDems) October 27, 2016
It seems that some of these schools are closing for very different reasons. One Pennsylvania official, for example, offered a much more mundane reason for why his region’s schools had cancelled classes.
As Easton Superintendent John Reinhart explained to The Daily Caller News Foundation, it was all a result of “the massive amount of traffic voters would bring” as they traveled to schools to cast their ballots:
“It was not based on any kind of threat or threatening situation.
It just seems very foolish for us to add even more traffic, and more activity to such a busy location.”
Reinhart further explained how a large number of people on school grounds would “interfere with normal school operations.”
It should also be noted that it’s not exactly unprecedented for schools to cancel classes on Election Day.
A report from 2014, found that 10 states — Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — reportedly declared Election Day a school holiday of sorts. In these states, classes were closed for “pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.”
PPH: "Some Maine schools with polling stations opt to close on Election Day"https://t.co/jsy9oMIhm7 DHS, East End no classes – Reiche open!
— Portland Schools (@PORTLANDPUBLIC) October 24, 2016
Safety in schools has become increasingly paramount in recent years, following a number of school shootings.
While there’s no denying that this election cycle has been marked by incidents of violence, it comes as no great surprise why — given the massive crowds that might be roaming school grounds on Election Day — why many facilities would opt to cancel classes.