It came…it happened…and…I don’t know if I should be admitting this freely, but I was possibly more captivated by it than I have been by the entire election campaign so far. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about Superstorm Sandy. I have to say, while America’s Eastern coastline was being ravaged by harsh winds, rain, flooding, power losses, the evacuation of many homes and the wreckage of many communities, I was not particularly concerned with what it meant for November 6th. However, I would now like to take the chance to tentatively discuss the repercussions of Sandy on voter turn-out, and the voting process.
Damage from Superstorm Sandy threw state and local agencies, who are tasked with running the election, into turmoil. With millions suffering from loss of power from the Carolinas to New England, as well as closed fire stations, schools, community centers, and other venues that serve as polling stations, polling spots may need to be relocated, for some will be too damaged to use.
Similarly, many electronic voting machines – used now by two out of every five counties nationwide – require consistent power to function properly. Without these machines, that is, if the power is still out next Tuesday, the affected areas may have to scramble to find alternative voting methods, including a sufficient amount of paper ballots.
My first question was whether or not Election Day would be changed. I discovered that this is highly unlikely, and indeed has never been done before. In order for this to happen, Congress must opt to change the timetable, according to a law from 1845.
Many Governors and state officials in the affected areas are confident that the storm will not harm Election Day. Many states have extended early voting, and some states such as Virginia, have extended the absentee ballot deadline. Other states are already reporting that some polling stations will have to be moved (this is true in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York). Overall, officials in most states hit by the storm seem to expect a very smooth day next Tuesday.
There are many speculations on how the storm will impact the candidates and their individual campaigns, found in posts such as How Hurricane Sandy Could Matter on Election Day, Impact of Hurricane Sandy on Election is Uncertain, and How Sandy Changed the Campaign.
Personally, I am glad to hear that states are prepared for Election Day, but more importantly, I am warmed to see quotes from officials who are primarily concerned with people’s safety, as they should be.
– Emma Woroch