Many states allow churches to house polling stations which is already enough of a problem, but complicating matters is the question of whether churches can or should be prohibited from displaying advertisements against for or against particular initiatives that are on the ballots. Having such displays is understandable given that the church is a private organization which has an opinion on ballot questions, but it is illegal for a polling station where all views must be treated equally. Churches may be important institutions in a community, but should they also be where people vote and where they can be proselytized to at the same time?
When people in America go out to vote, their voting usually takes place in some public building – schools or town halls, for example. In some areas, though, there is a tradition of using churches as polling places because in those communities the church is the most public institution around. Many Christians wouldn't be bothered by voting in a church; in fact, they would wonder why anyone would be bothered. Are such people offended by Christianity? Are they anti-Christian? It requires a massive amount of personal blindness and conviction that one's unjust privileges are really personal rights to think such things.
What Christians need to ask themselves is how they would feel about voting in a mosque and being confronted with "Allah hu-Akbar" signs along the way to the brand new voting machines. What if they were forced to vote in a gay-friendly synagogue filled with signs promoting equality for gays, or the local offices of the ACLU filled with posters denouncing attempts to undermine church/state separation? If that sounds like something that would make a some Christians uncomfortable, does that mean that Islam offends them or that they are anti-Muslim? Of course not. It does, however, mean that sectarian religious proselytization — unavoidable in any house of worship — and political propaganda is inappropriate in the place where people are voting.
The American Humanist Association has received numerous complaints from all across the country about polling stations in churches. There is even hard evidence for how the use of churches can inappropriately influence how a person votes. According to AHLC attorney James Hurley: "An Illinois member voted in a church that displayed a four-foot wooden crucifix right above the election judges. Another member in California was confronted with a large marble plaque dedicated to the 'unborn children' who are 'killed' by abortion and containing a quote from the Bible justifying the notion that the soul is alive in the womb. And a New York member voted in a room featuring large religious slogans on the wall behind the voting machines."
Why should Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, or atheists have to go to a Christian church and be forced to look at Christian symbols just so they can exercise their fundamental right to vote? Why should voters have to face faith-based political propaganda simply because local politicians have chosen to put voting booths in churches instead of someplace where such propaganda would be illegal? Why should Christian fundamentalists have to go to a Catholic Church to vote? It really doesn’t make any sense to integrate private churches into the public process of civic voting. Churches, as institutions, can't be accorded any special status, role, or voice when it comes to voting for officers of a civil, secular government.