Now the New York state Board of Elections is preparing for the worst as they are releasing information about possible back-up scenarios if the election turn out is significantly lower than expected because of damage from Hurricane Sandy.
If less than 25 per cent of registered voters show up to polling stations on Tuesday, they are prepared to extend the voting deadline past Tuesday evening, meaning that New Yorkers may have two days to cast their ballots.
The news comes just a day after neighboring New Jersey, which is considered the worst-hit of all of the East Coast because of the hurricane, announced that they will allow residents to email their votes in if they are unable to get to a polling station.
Election organizers are grappling with ways to make sure that the presidential election is not thwarted by any turnout issues stemming from Monday’s storm.
They will be comparing this year’s turnout to that of previous elections, where typical turnout hovers around 60 per cent of registered voters.
While power was restored to Manhattan on Friday, thousands remain in the dark. Progress is being made daily, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has urged utility companies to prioritize polling sites so that voters can cast their ballots safely.
‘We’ve provided lists of poll sites to local utilities, and some of the voting machines do have battery backup,’ board of elections spokesman Tom Connolly said.
‘We are also planning to get generators to polling sites, but it’s not like we have an unlimited supply of generators.’
The hurricane, that barreled down on New Jersey and New York on October 29, has claimed 110 lives, displaced thousands and left millions without power for days.
Flooding, damaged roads and power outages have forced many Jerseyites from their homes and the electronic option will allow first responders who are working away from home and those displaced by the storm to cast their ballot.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his counterpart in New York, Governor Cuomo, have been reviewing how to prepare their respective states for November 6 – while simultaneously trying to restore electricity and access to food and water.
New Jersey will allow any state resident that has been displaced by the storm to qualify as an overseas voter, meaning they can submit their ballot by fax or email.
Governor Christie also mandated that county clerks open their offices over the weekend to allow early voting and has called for paper ballots to be sent to polling stations still without power.
‘Time on your hands? Tired of cleaning stuff up? Go there in person, you’ll get a ballot, you vote and hand it in and you’re done,’ Christie said at a press conference, encouraging residents to not let the storm prevent them from exercising their right to vote.
‘There’s no reason why anybody shouldn’t vote. We’re going to have a full, fair, transparent, open voting process,’ he added.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has tried to address the issue of polling station power availability but told reporters that the Board of Elections has jurisdiction over those centers.
‘They have known for six days now that we were going to have some problems and hopefully they had backup plans anyway,’ he said, casting some doubt on their preparedness though much of the city will likely have power by next Tuesday.
Many counties in upstate New York are still without power but officials have noted that paper ballots are primarily used, so the power outage should not impact a person’s ability to vote but access to polling stations might be a difficulty for many voters.
After the storm swept through the East Coast, local officials assessed the damage and some actually wondered if the destruction was severe enough to merit the postponement of the presidential election.
But the idea was dismissed given the limited geographic scope of the storm and the monumental impact of rescheduling the decision day for the U.S. Commander in Chief.
Changing the date of a national Election Day, which has never actually occurred before, can only occur by an act of Congress, according to legislation from 1845.
Across the U.S., many Americans have already headed to the polls. Roughly 26 million Americans have cast their ballots early in 34 states and in Washington, D.C.
And most Americans are in suspense as to what will be the outcome of the election.
Various polls have shown U.S. President Barack Obama and his GOP challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are neck in neck but Obama seems to be appear ahead in the Electoral College count.
According to Real Clear Politics estimates on voter preferences in battleground states, Obama leads Romney in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, Wisconsin,
Romney is only projected to win in the swing states of Florida and North Carolina, with a negligible lead in Virginia, according to the RCP tallies.
Source: The Daily Mail