Several schools across the nation have decided to close on Election Day over fears of possible violence in the hallways stemming from the fallout from the heated rhetoric that consumed the campaign trail.
The fear is the ugliness of the election season could escalate into confrontations and even violence in the school hallways, endangering students.
"If anybody can sit there and say they don't think this is a contentious election, then they aren't paying much attention," Ed Tolan, the Falmouth, Maine police chief, said Tuesday. His community has already called off classes on Nov. 8 and an increased police presence will be felt around town.
School officials have pointed to the recent firebombing of the North Carolina Republican Party headquarters and the shooting-up of another with a BB gun as the type of trouble they fear come Election Day.
Talks of a rigged election, mainly spoken by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, has also increased anxieties across the nation. Some are worried about clashes between the self-appointed observers and voters.
Parent Alpay Balkir said he is glad children will be home. His 8-year-old son is a student in Falmouth, where the high school doubles as a polling place.
"If it's going to be as chaotic as they say it's going to be, it's a good thing. Kids should stay out of it," Balkir said. "I don't know what the environment is going to be like."
Schools are popular polling places because they have plenty of parking and are usually centrally located. It's difficult to say how many school-based polling places have been moved this year, given how decentralized the voting process is across the country.
But state and local officials say voting has been removed or classes have been canceled on Election Day at schools in Illinois, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and elsewhere.
"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. What if someone walks in a polling location with a backpack bomb or something?" said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, co-chairman of the National Association of Secretaries of State election committee. "If that happens at a school, then that's certainly concerning."
Though many have expressed concerns about the potential for violence, the National Association of Secretaries of State does not advocate having armed guards at polling stations because their presence could intimidate voters.
Some of the pressure to close schools on Election Day or move voting is coming from parents. Sara Andriotis, a mother in the Easton, Pennsylvania, area, pushed for voting to be taken out of local schools.
"We were mostly concerned because of the risk that it puts our children in," she said.
Easton Superintendent John Reinhart wanted to get voting out of schools altogether but was rebuffed by county election officials. So the school board canceled classes on Election Day.
"If you take the personalities away and cast the emotion with the election aside, one has to ask the question: 'Are our schools the best places for that activity to take place?'" he said. "I just think we've reached the point where we need to look at other locations."
That's happening in Hall County, Nebraska, which got out ahead of the trend in May when it moved six polling places out of schools for a primary. Those changes will remain in place next month. Voting will be held at three churches and one community center.
Election officials elsewhere say that schools are vital places for voting and that removing them as polling places creates logistical headaches and voter confusion.
"We wouldn't be able to conduct voting without them," said Pam Anderson, executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association. She said voting in schools has not generally been a concern in Colorado but acknowledged there is likely to be more security this year.
Early voting has already started in some states. The preliminary numbers appear to show Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, with an edge in several of the roughly 10 battleground states that will decide the 2016 White House race.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.