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Despite Storm, New York and New Jersey Prepare for Elections

  • Peter Fedynsky

Even as residents and officials in the Northeastern United States struggle to clean up after Hurricane Sandy, they are looking ahead to this Tuesday - Election Day. Many polling stations in New York City and New Jersey remain flooded or without power. Election officials are trying to make sure every voter can cast a ballot.

This temporary polling station is where the New York City Board of Elections stores voting machines. Hurricane Sandy flooded the board's headquarters in lower Manhattan.

Some voters came here on Friday, several days before Election Day, to cast an early or an absentee ballot.

Attorney William Ansbach is among them.

“I went on a Website that New York provides and figured out where to go to vote. There was a new site here, filling in for the one that was, I guess, water logged,” said Ansbach.

Officials say it is too late to find substitute locations for polling stations that are damaged and to properly inform voters about them. One official said tents would be used on Election Day at polling places that have been damaged.

Ashton Stewart is executive director of the New York League of Women Voters, a voting advocacy organization. He said the storm has raised concerns about the tally.

“A question from a lot of campaigns about the accuracy of the count. They will want to make sure that everybody was voting, and people were not disenfranchised,” said Stewart.

Stewart said New York State has redundant vote tallies. One is traditional paper ballots. The other, electronic scans of those ballots.

In the state of New Jersey, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno said county offices will stay open over the weekend to make sure voters can pick up mail-in ballots. She said military trucks will substitute for polling stations that were badly damaged or left without power.

“I encourage everybody to use mail-in-ballots, because obviously in Seaside Heights or Sea Bright there is no polling place, it’s gone. What they will find instead is a Department of Defense truck with a well situated National Guardsman, and a big sign that says ‘vote here,’” said Guadagno.

The U.S. Constitution says that Election Day must be the same throughout the country. While some officials on the East Coast would like to see it postponed, many election workers are working long hours to make sure voting occurs on time and without problems.