Voting in Churches

It was only a matter of time until some group questioned the North Carolina practice of allowing polling places in churches:

The Appignani Humanist Legal Center says it has "serious legal concerns" with the use of churches as polling places and says the state violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause that outlines the separation between church and state.

The group stops short of threatening legal action, but a spokesman says he hopes for a change in state policy.

A spokesman for the State Board of Elections said Monday it would be up to legislators to make any changes to polling locations, but that the use of churches is completely legal. Previous appellate court rulings have backed the practice of using places of worship.

The practice of voting in church is strange to someone who may be new to the area – in fact in all the places I lived in Northern Virginia I always voted in the nearest school. Upon moving to Lewisville I was stunned to find out my polling place was the church right down the street. Voting in church doesn't bother me, but I try to imagine how non-religious people feel about it by thinking about what it would be like to vote in a building being used for something I find mysterious or spooky like seances or girl talk. It would be off-putting to say the least.

With the current political environment in North Carolina this group's request will likely fall on deaf ears, but it's something state leaders will eventually have to consider as the state's demographics continue to shift away from its traditional "Bible-belt" roots. 

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