11 Unusual U.S. Polling Places
U.S. voters typically flock to schools, churches, and courthouses to make their election picks. But there are small pockets of the country that elect their leaders from decidedly unusual polling stations.
1. MCDONALD'S PLAYPLACE // LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
It’s not all that uncommon to vote at a local restaurant, but some Los Angeles voters might feel more like they’re going to a small child’s birthday party than to do their civic duty. Chicken McNuggets are not included with your ballot, but at least, as the The Los Angeles Times shows, there’s a great view of the tunnels and slides.
2. VENICE BEACH LIFEGUARD HEADQUARTERS // LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Voters who do their civic duty at this polling location can catch a wave or two when they're done. The Venice Beach Lifeguard Headquarters has been used as a polling station for around 15 years, and though it might seem strange to use what could be a Baywatch location as a voting station, it gets a little less weird when you consider that Los Angeles County lifeguards are under the umbrella of the LA Fire Department—and that fire stations are frequently used to cast votes.
3. NEPTUNE SOCIETY COLUMBARIUM // SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Voters in one San Francisco precinct take to the polls surrounded by ashes in more than 8000 internment spaces. The Neo-Classical landmark was designed in 1898.
4. MUMMERS MUSEUM // PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
Some Philadelphia voters enjoy free hot chocolate and coffee while looking through exhibits chronicling the storied history of the annual New Year's folk parade. “Here, they come into a Philadelphia tradition,” museum manager Eileen Garbarino told The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2015.
5. GORDIE'S FOUNDATION BARBER SCHOOL // CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
A mother founded the Chicago foundation after her son, Gordie, was fatally shot, ABC 7 Chicago reports. Gordie’s Foundation teaches different vocational skills to ex-offenders—carpentry, computers, janitorial work, construction, sewing, and barbering. That barber school is shared with voters on election days, who take to the polls amid a sea of mannequin heads.
6. CHALLENGER SPACE CENTER // PEORIA, ARIZONA
Voters assigned to this center have an out-of-this-world polling experience. The center, known for simulating space missions for visitors, was designed with input from people ineligible to vote—fifth graders.
7. SKUNK RIVER ARMS GUN SHOP // HAYSVILLE, IOWA
Technically, the 2016 East-West Lancaster precinct Republican caucus took place near the shop itself, inside a building where concealed-carry and gun-safety classes are held, according to Esquire. The shop was new to caucusing in 2016. “I was asked by the party,” owner Dan Glandon said. “It’s because we don't have many locations in the area. The Democrats are meeting over there in the city hall. This was the only place where we could put a lot of people.”
8. LUXE SUNSET BOULEVARD HOTEL // LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Compare the PlayPlace to another Los Angeles polling spot with a decidedly different vibe. According to The Huffington Post, in 2012, the hotel "is serving a few lucky voters in Brentwood and Bel-Air with complimentary valet parking, free hors d’oeuvres and a voucher for 10 percent off dinner at the hotel's restaurant, On Sunset."
9. LAUNDROMATS // SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA AND CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
San Francisco voters can knock off two weeknight evening tasks in one go at Get the Funk Out. Chicago is also home to a laundromat that doubles as a polling site: Su Nueva Lavandería in West Lawn. “People have learned over the years not to do their laundry on Election Day,” Chicago poll worker Mary Zintak told Medill News Service. “We take up a lot of space.”
10. PEOPLE'S GARAGES // SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, AND MORE
Stay on good terms with your neighbors, because many polling sites across the U.S. are in people's garages. It's a location common in San Francisco, but South Carolina, Texas, and likely other states also set up garage polling.
11. GRAIN ELEVATOR // MALCOM, IOWA
Technically, this grain elevator isn't a polling location—you can only vote in caucuses here. Five million bushels of grain pass through the Heartland Co-op facility—one of 71 locations the company operates throughout Iowa—each year. Manager Jay Foster told ABC News that the grain elevator has hosted caucus polling for “quite some time. It’s nothing fancy. It’s nothing wild.”