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Voting Amid the Devastation From Sandy

Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Christopher Murphy is running for Senate in Connecticut, a state that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. The close contest could be affected by the storm damage.

In any event, election supervisors throughout the Northeast are confident that the elections will proceed as scheduled Tuesday. Local officials are easing voting restrictions to help ensure as many people as possible are able to vote.

“I’d like to have the polling places powered up for next Tuesday,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Wednesday. “I would like that. I’m not yet to the point where I know whether we’re going to be able to do that or we’re not going to be able to do that.”

Gov. Dan Malloy, Christie’s Democratic counterpart in Connecticut, had a similar response at an appearance Thursday with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and members of the state’s congressional delegation.

“We are going to have an election,” Malloy said. “We will take whatever steps are necessary. We are in communication with the secretary of state’s office on a regular basis; we are getting information about whether, which, if any voting places won’t be open. We’re waiving rules if we need to consolidate, but we will coordinate that with jurisdictions.”

Con Edison, which provides power to New York City and Westchester County, N.Y., plans to restore most of the power system by the weekend after the elections, leaving it likely that polling places will need to have backup systems in place.

“In areas served by overhead electrical distribution equipment, crews have had to contend with more than 100,000 downed wires, as well as blocked roads and flooding,” the company said.

In New York City, Sandy delayed the distribution of some absentee ballots, which will be sent by overnight mail. State officials in Albany extended the deadline for absentee ballot applications by mail to Friday.

A spokesman for the state’s Board of Elections said polling places could operate without power for the optical scan voting machines. In that case, ballots would be put into a secure box and scanned into the system at another location. The spokesman said local election officials are still assessing the structural integrity and accessibility of many polling places. Any move to relocate sites could be made at the county level.

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