The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

November 4, 2012

Despite storm damage, election officials hopeful

NEW YORK — Power generators are being marshaled, polling locations moved and voting machines hurriedly put into place as officials prepare to hold an national election in storm-ravaged sections of New York and New Jersey barely a week after Superstorm Sandy.

Organizers expressed guarded confidence Sunday that the presidential vote will proceed with no major disruptions in most areas hit by the storm, though it was unclear whether the preparations would be enough to avoid depressed turnout in communities where people still lack power or have been driven from their damaged homes.

Some voters will be casting ballots in places different from their usual polls.

In Long Beach, N.Y., a barrier-island city that was inundated with water during the storm, the number of polling places will be cut to four, down from the usual 11. Residents of the devastated borough of Sea Bright, on the New Jersey shore, will have to drive two towns over to vote.

But with two days to go until Election Day, officials in both states said Sunday that they were overcoming many of their biggest challenges.

Hundreds of emergency generators have been rushed into place to ensure power at polling places, even if the neighborhoods around them are still dark. Electric utilities were putting a priority on restoring power to others and had assured election officials they would be up and running by today.

Of the 1,256 polling locations in New York City, only 59 needed to be moved or closed, said Valerie Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the city’s Board of Elections. Most were in coastal areas of Brooklyn and Queens or other neighborhoods where buildings normally used for voting had been turned into shelters. In a few places, voters will be casting their ballots in tents, and some might be offered shuttle buses to get to polling spots moved miles from their homes.

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