How Will Sandy Affect Turnout?

Nov 5 2012 @ 10:37am

Undeterred

The hurricane is colliding with Election Day:

Election officials across the storm-ravaged region have been very concerned about the possibility of voter disenfranchisement — particularly over the prospect that relocated polling sites will confuse voters who don’t receive proper notice of the move. … In New York City, election officials are relocating 28 polling sites in Queens, 24 in Brooklyn, three each in Manhattan and the Bronx, and two on Staten Island. See the full list here [pdf].

Other problems include power outages at polling sites, gas shortages, and voters without transportation. If the turnout is bad enough, New Yorkers could get a second day of voting:

County election officials could ask the New York state Board of Elections to allow polls to reopen for another day if Tuesday's turnout is less than 25%, according to state board spokesman Thomas Connolly said. "To my knowledge this has never happened in New York," Connolly said. "Will the turnout be low? It's hard to say — probably, it all depends if people have other priorities." The state board would consider the request and, if approved, a second day of voting would be scheduled within 20 days of Tuesday, he said. Polls would be open for 11 hours on the second day, with only those who were eligible to vote on Tuesday allowed to cast ballots.

Meanwhile, displaced residents in New Jersey will have the option to vote by fax or email. Mataconis considers that "an interesting last minute solution, but as one computer security blogger notes, it presents its own problems":

Email, of course, is not at all authenticated, reliable, or confidential, and that by itself opens the door to new forms of election mischief that would be far more difficult in a traditional in-person polling station or with paper absentee ballots. If we worry that touchscreen "DRE" electronic voting machines might be problematic, email voting seems downright insane by comparison.

Joe Coscarelli looks at the electoral implications of Sandy's wake:

Although the states most affected are thought to be comfortably blue when it comes to the presidential race, President Obama's popular vote total could suffer from low turnout. The real concern, however, is with local races, where every vote really does count. With all of the obstacles in play at the moment, these election stresses seem unlikely to end on Tuesday.