Governments strained to allow voters to participate in the election despite damage from Hurricane Sandy. In New York City, where almost 60 polling places were moved, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority was running election shuttles from stricken areas. In Long Island beach towns, residents emerged from the rubble to vote. And across New Jersey, county officials tried to cope with Republican Governor Chris Christie’s decision to let displaced residents submit ballots via e-mail or fax until 8 p.m.
“I have grave concerns about the security of what’s being sent to me electronically,” said Michael Harper, clerk of the Hudson County Board of Elections. “It’s never been like this,” said Harper, 36, while sitting in his Jersey City office behind a desk strewn with paperwork and food plates. The “mountain of paperwork” from e- mail ballot applications has resulted in a workload that’s “physically impossible” for the office to handle, he said.
Following reports of long delays and voter confusion, New Jersey extended the deadline for clerks to count those e-mailed and faxed ballots until Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. Notwithstanding these efforts, it has become apparent that the county clerks are receiving applications at a rate that outpaces their capacity to process them. A request for an absentee ballot submitted through the Essex County clerk’s website yesterday morning hadn’t been answered by 3:45 p.m. today.
In New Jersey, though, e-mailed ballots may swing local elections that sometimes are decided by a handful of votes. If the losers challenge the integrity of e-mail voting, that may result in contested elections.
Confusion cropped up across the region, where many places still lack power one week after the Atlantic superstorm knocked out power to more than 8 million customers. Almost 974,000 were without electricity in the Northeast.
Confusion about where to vote was common on Brooklyn’s Coney Island, one of the areas hardest hit by Sandy. Along the storm-lashed New Jersey shore, Ocean and Monmouth counties moved more than 180 polling sites, many in beachfront communities that suffered severe damage.
In Ocean County, a bus equipped with 12 voting machines went to eight shelters to allow as many as 15,000 displaced residents to cast early votes. In the worst-hit areas, many found a sense of pride in the national ritual.
On Long Beach and Atlantic Beach in Nassau County on Long Island, where piles of furniture and garbage line the streets, many residents took a break from sorting through their belongings. Three polling places that were flooded were consolidated into one.
“We have no power, we’re freezing and I have nothing and I still voted,” said Rachel Cabrera, 23.
Miami-Dade County, Florida, can take pointers from the folks in New York and New Jersey. Due to inept planning and supervision, some polling places still had lines of people waiting over 6 hours to vote, longer after all of the races had already been decided. It was embarrassing to us Floridians, that every state in the Union, including Alaska and Hawaii had already recorded their results and Florida was the only state that could not be counted nationally, due to the negligence of voting and election officials in Miami.
Thanks to Tim Jones, Michelle Jamrisko and Scott Moritz and BLOOMBERG, and
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