Sandy's Impact on Elections & Voting Could Be Awful

absentee ballotThere's a messy, uncomfortable question lurking in my mind in the wake of Hurricane Sandy: How will people vote when so many polling stations have been destroyed, and when there's a gas shortage, and when so many places are still out of power? How is this going to affect the elections?

Maybe voting tomorrow isn't super high on the priority list for a lot of Hurricane Sandy victims at this moment. But still, I've heard on the news that provisions were being made... or something? Anyway, that's what I told my mom when she brought it up on the phone yesterday. "Oh sure those people can still vote, no prob!" I said. And then I hung up and wondered. Will they, really?


Yeah, maybe not. Supposedly, ruined voting sites in New Jersey, Long Island, and New York City will be replaced with temporary sites, some with well-placed military trucks and national guardsmen. Sixty voting sites in New York City have been moved, but how many people know this? (You can find out if yours is affected at the new Board of Elections polling locator site.)

And that's just in-person voting on Tuesday. What about all the absentee and early ballots floating around in the mail? Have any of those been lost or destroyed? At the least I would think a lot of them would be delayed. And even if you think none of this will have an impact on the presidential election (these are states that will overwhelmingly go for Obama anyway), there are many local elections that matter just as much to these communities.

Now New Jersey is allowing people to vote via email for fax, which is great for people WITH POWER and INTERNET ACCESS. (But FYI, see the New Jersey Division of Elections to learn how.) This will be the first time civilians are allowed to vote electronically from remote, according to CNN. Wow, voting via the Internet. What could possibly go wrong?!? Hahahahaha!

Meanwhile, about half of Long Island Power Authority's 1.1 million customers still do not have power. None of my friends who live in Long Island have power yet, that much I do know. LIPA is saying the vote will go on -- but some stations may have to resort to paper ballots. By flashlight. (And by the way, why these people still do not have power even though teams of technicians have traveled there to help is a whole 'nother story. Good grief.)

Anyway, phew. Voting may be too much of a hardship tomorrow for folks who might otherwise vote with pride. Counting could get complicated. We're already seeing reports of voting mayhem that's totally unrelated to Sandy as it is. But the disaster is just making things harder. I didn't want to believe Sandy would be as ferocious a storm as it was. And I don't want to believe that elections this year are going to be a total shit storm. But it looks like we need to face that reality now.

Will the after effects of Sandy make it harder for you to vote tomorrow?


Image via betsyweber/Flickr



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