Election officials in the storm-battered Northeast say voting will go on next Tuesday – but that relocated polling places, mobile polling trucks and even an extra day of voting are possible.
About 80 polling places in Connecticut are still without power as of Friday morning, Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill said. Although most of those should be back up by Tuesday, “some are not going to be usable for safety reasons, even if we get power back,” she said.
Another problem: Some schools that had planned to close on Election Day to accommodate polls now say they can’t afford to miss any more time.
The state is already planning to consolidate some polling places, but Merrill says that’s a last option.
“The worst thing you can do is move polling places. It’s very inconvenient to voters, and most people don’t have communication right now,” she said by cellphone from Trumbull, Conn., where she was touring polling places.
In New Jersey, where nearly half the state is without power after Superstorm Sandy’s Monday blow, Gov. Chris Christie has said the last thing people are thinking about is how to vote.
“We’ll be ready for Election Day one way or the other, and people will have the opportunity to vote in the election, but we’re just going to have to see where we are,” Christie said Wednesday.
New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who as secretary of State is in charge of the state Division of Elections, encouraged voters to vote early, in person at county clerks’ offices any day through Tuesday.
“The backup plan is pretty simple,” Guadagno said Thursday. “All the assets that the president of the United States delivered to the governor yesterday, including Department of Defense trucks, will be used to create polling places.”
So even if a polling place has been completely destroyed or lacks power, a truck will be on the same site to provide a mobile polling station.
The main phone line for the New York City Board of Elections has been out since Monday, and election offices in Manhattan and Staten Island have been closed all week because of a lack of power.
City and state officials are still assessing the damage, and a spokesman for the New York State Board of Elections told Gannett News Service that an extra day of voting is “a possibility.”
“I can't rule it out, but it would be determined after Election Day,” said spokesman John Conklin.
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