New Yorkers Vote in Shadow of Sandy

Voters sign in to vote at busy polling station at East Elementary School early Tuesday, November 6, 2012, in Long Beach, N.Y., one of several voting locations that were created as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
Voters sign in to vote at busy polling station at East Elementary School early Tuesday, November 6, 2012, in Long Beach, N.Y., one of several voting locations that were created as a result of Superstorm Sandy.
Margaret Besheer
New Yorkers are going to the polls in sunny, but frigid, weather to cast ballots in the U.S. general election.  In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, special voting arrangements were made to ensure as many eligible voters as possible could get to the polls. 

Board of Election officials relocated several polling sites because of power outages and damage after Sandy swept through the northeastern United States eight days ago.

Special buses have been deployed to hard hit areas to shuttle voters to polling stations.  In some locations, multiple districts have been consolidated into a single site - sometimes in a tent - where people can vote.

Watch related video of voters in Manhattan's East Village
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday he signed an executive order allowing registered voters, who are displaced, to go to any polling station to cast their ballot.

“There are complications on election day, because you have people who are displaced, you have people who are in shelters, you have people who are staying at a friend's house, people who are staying at a family's house, and it's often a far distance from their residence and a far distance from their original polling place.  We want everyone to vote, just because you are displaced does not mean you should be disenfranchised," said Cuomo.

About an hour after polls opened, problems were reported at a few voting centers.  One makeshift site opened late after electric generators failed to work.

Some voters expressed concern voter turnout in the city might be lower than normal because of Sandy's aftereffects.

“I think in some areas it will be [affected] because of the electricity and because of people's priorities," said one female voter.

 "The storm kind of tampers the excitement some," another female voter said, "I think, knowing that there are so many people that probably will not even get to vote, they are just trying to get their homes back together.”

While some might worry the amended voting procedures could introduce opportunities for voter fraud, this elderly voter thinks they are a good idea.

“No, I am not worried about voter fraud.  I hope it opens up alternate ways to vote in the future," she said.

Voters in New York City are voting for either incumbent President Barack Obama or challenger Mitt Romney.  One U.S. Senate seat is also being contested, as well as several state and local positions.

President Barack Obama shifted his focus from the presidential race on Tuesday to meet with top administration officials for an update on storm recovery efforts.  A White House statement released after the meeting says more than 263,000 people have applied for federal emergency assistance.

The storm killed more than 100 people in the United States and caused up to $50 billion in damages.
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