The reason? Hosting the voting location is too much of a hassle.
On Tuesday, for instance, church officials had to close its school, Lakeshore Christian Academy, and its day care, Kids Kampus, citing safety concerns and an inconvenience for pickup and drop-off caused by voters. The school closure affected about 100 families.
“We have to make sure our ministries are open and that it’s a safe place for children,” said Nate Birkholz, the church’s youth pastor. “Because of how this church has been built, we can’t isolate the children from the precincts.”
Lakeshore Christian Academy, a K-12 school, has about 100 students. Kids Kampus, a day care for children ages 6 months to 6 years, has about 40 children.
Birkholz said after parents were notified of this week’s one-day closure, four of the church’s pastors decided that it was “not the best choice to keep operating this way.”
“This was not an easy decision to make,” Birkholz said. “We want to be open to the community. … (Closing the polls) limits one of the avenues to make ourselves present to the community.”
Sue Buitenhuis, Grand Haven Township clerk, said Lakeshore Baptist has been a polling site since June 2003 when the Ottawa County Road Commission no longer wanted its facility to be a polling location. Since 2003 was a non-election year, the first election at the church was in 2004.
The church houses two polling sites: Precinct 3 for those who live west of U.S. 31 and south of Ferris Street, and Precinct 5 for residents west of 168th Avenue and north of Ferris Street.
Voters cast a total of 1,085 ballots at Lakeshore Baptist in Tuesday’s presidential primary election.
There are four elections during 2012 and the church has requested the May election be the last there.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.