Will Hurricane Sandy Impact The Nov. 6 Elections?
MAPLEWOOD, MO (KTVI)–States battered by Hurricane Sandy may seek court orders to expand early voting or even delay the presidential election voting within their state. But election experts in St. Louis don’t expect widespread delays.
National election authority Paul DeGregorio, who once ran the St. Louis County Election Board, said states could turn to technology to provide out of town voters with absentee ballots. Currently, he said, military and overseas voters can pull down ballots from the internet, fill them out and mail them in. “That’s an option I think some states are considering,” he said.
Although extra absentee ballots may slow the vote count, DeGregorio said states have until December 17 to report their electoral college totals in the presidential election.
Political scientist Daniel Hellinger, a professor at Webster University, said a cutback in early voting on the East Coast would likely hurt President Obama. “I would expect that poor people will have a harder time coping in many ways with the impact of the storm and that might pose a problem in terms of getting some of the Obama sector of the electorate to the polls,” Hellinger said.
The storm aftermath could also impact early voting along the eastern seaboard. Both New York and New Jersey are considered Obama strongholds.
Hellinger predicted if it is a close election the loser will likely challenge in court any states that postpone voting. “That’s not a good thing,” he noted recalling the complaints during the drawn out Florida recount in 2000.
“The more infighting there is between the parties over electoral outcomes the more it is going to make people doubt the legitimacy of the entire electoral system,” Hellinger warned.
In 2001 New York State delayed its primary election after the terrorist attacks. Unlike many nations, the U.S. does not have a national election commission to determine what might happen in the event of major disruptions.
“I think it would have been more serious if it happened on election day,” said DeGregorio. “Because we are a week out I think FEMA will provide trailers and power generators to allow polling places to exist for these voters. I think we’ll get through the election.”
On Facebook Betsey Bruce on FOX2