Mingling Church and State

I’ve cast ballots at polls set up in a Presbyterian church in California, a Catholic church in Michigan, and a non-denominational Christian church in Maryland, but never before had I seen an LDS building performing this service. Above is my ward’s building in Gaithersburg, Maryland on Tuesday morning, minutes before city elections began. For pack meeting, we confined ourselves to the Primary room on the lower level, entering from the rear, before going out to distribute bags and flyers for Scouting for Food. Green Signs won, and Yellow Signs and Blue Signs did not.

[Also posted at Junior Ganymede.]

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About John Mansfield

Mansfield in the desertA third-generation southern Nevadan, I have lived in exile most of my life in such places as Los Alamos, Baltimore, Los Angeles, the western suburbs of Detroit, and currently the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C. I work as a fluid dynamics engineer. I was baptized at age twelve in the font of the Las Vegas Nevada Central Stake Center, and on my nineteenth birthday I received the endowment in the St. George Temple. I served as a missionary mostly in the Patagonia of Argentina from 1985 to 1987. My true calling in the Church seems to be working with Cub Scouts, whom I have served in different capacities in four states most years since 1992. (My oldest boy turned eight in 2004.) I also currently teach Sunday School to the thirteen-year-olds. I hold degrees from two universities named for men who died in the 1870s, the Brigham Young University and the Johns Hopkins University. My wife is Elizabeth Pack Mansfield, who comes from New Mexico's north central mountains and studied molecular biology at the same two schools I attended. We have four sons, whose care and admonition, along with care of my aged father, require much of Elizabeth's time. She currently serves the Church as Mia-Maid advisor, ward music chairman, and choir director, and plays violin whenever she can. One day, I would like to make shoes.

6 thoughts on “Mingling Church and State

  1. John M, I have never seen an LDS building used as a polling place where I have lived. I would like to hear from some people in Utah — I would bet it must happen there all the time. In our town, we use the community center/town hall. When I lived in Miami, it was usually municipal buildings, but occasionally the Methodist church would be a polling place.

  2. Handbook 2, Section 21.2, sub-point 7:

    Church facilities may be used for voter registration and as polling places at the request of voting officials if:
    a. There is no reasonable alternative.
    b. The officials and voters maintain Church standards in the building.
    c. The event will not pose physical danger to the building.
    d. The event will not harm the image of the Church.

  3. I should add that it doesn’t happen here (northeastern Boulder County, Colorado) because there are a plethora of schools, churches, and fraternal organizations with buildings; the stake center and outlying LDS buildings are almost always within a block or two of schools or other suitable places. I cannot imagine condition (a) above every being satisfied.

  4. I lived in Utah most of my life and have never seen an LDS church used as a polling place, so it’s definitely not common in Utah. Actually, until this post, I assumed it was not allowed, so I have been enlightened. Schools are the most common locations I’ve voted in, but my current polling place is a nursing home/abandoned hospital.

  5. When I lived in Utah it never happened in any of the precincts I voted in. We did have a neighborhood caucus meeting at my bishop’s house though.

    BTW, your meeting house is beautiful. When I lived in Northern VA, my ward attended at the stake center for the Mount Vernon Stake, which is another great building. Some neat church architecture out there.

  6. I can’t remember ever using a church of any denomination for voting in Utah. We always use city buildings, schools or rec centers.

    My mom says she remembers the church being used for voting once in the 70s because the RS was asked to clean up after voting was complete.

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