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How Sandy has impacted voting in N.Y., N.J., and Conn.

For the millions of residents in the tri-state area are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy, the elections may be the last thing on their minds, but voting is one more task that could be harder for some New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents because of the storm.

The damage Sandy left in its wake isn't expected to influence the presidential election that much -- while the storm had some effects on voting in a few East Coast swing states, the three hardest-hit states are solidly Democratic in terms of their presidential vote. Still, the damage caused by the storm could have an impact on the overall popular vote or the down-ballot races in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Here's a look at how officials in these states are responding to challenges facing voters.

New York

It's still unclear how many polling places will have to be relocated in New York -- where more than a million people still don't have power. New York State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin told that local election boards are still assessing the impact of the storm and will report back to the state how many polling places need to be relocated. They'll consider whether the polling place is accessible to the general public, whether it has power and if it is structurally sound and safe.

Conklin said the state would set up as many new polling stations as it needs and that the board of elections is coordinating with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office as well as state emergency management personnel to obtain generators.

Polling places in New York do not necessarily need power, since New York uses optical scanning voting machines that can run on batteries. If necessary, however, polling stations could give voters paper ballots to fill out, which would be put in a locked box and tallied at the end of the day at the central board.

"We're going to be open for business and do everything in our power to make sure every voter that comes out to vote will have a poll site to go to," Conklin said.

"The intention is to minimize the disruption and keep poll sites as close as possible to the original location, if they have to be moved," he added. For polling places that need to be relocated, local boards will likely rely on mass media, updates on government websites and notices posted at the original sites to inform voters of the new locations.

The state extended the deadline for submitting applications for an absentee ballot from Oct. 30 to today. Absentee ballots themselves must be postmarked by Nov. 5 to be valid as always, but to account for any disruptions in mail service, they now have 13 days to reach a voter's local election board instead of just seven.

New Jersey

In New Jersey on Thursday, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, in her capacity as the state's chief election official, issued a directive to county clerks and local election officials with orders to ease voting restrictions. Originally, applications to vote by mail had to be received by the county clerk seven days prior to the election, but Guadagno ordered officials to process any applications received by today. Guadagno also ordered county clerks and election offices to keep their offices open at least a full eight hours every day, today through Monday, to help process mail-in ballots. Voters can submit their mail-in ballots to those offices in person.

Officials were ordered to notify the state by today about polling places likely to be inaccessible and to identify alternative sites. Guadagno said in a press conference this afternoon that she hadn't had a chance to review all of those reports, but she said only a "small number" of polling places are without power. In Monmouth County, for instance, she said there are only 10 polling places without electricity.

Guadagno said that voters can text 877877 to find out the location of their polling place. For those polling sites that must be relocated, Guadagno relaxed the rules regarding where they must be situated. The state is also ready to deploy military trucks to serve as temporary polling places, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.


In Connecticut, Gov. Dan Malloy this week issued an executive order to move the voter registration deadline from Tuesday, Oct. 30 to Thursday, Nov. 1. The state's strict voting rules only allow residents out of the area to vote by absentee ballot.

As of Wednesday, there were dozens of polling places without power, the Hartford Courant reported. However, like New York, Connecticut uses optical scan voting machines that can run on batteries.

"What is most important that is that somehow, some way, this election take place in the state of Connecticut,'' Malloy said Wednesday, the Courant reported. "This is a national election, with national implications. We need to vote, and I have asked the secretary of the state's office, the registrars, the town clerks, the mayors, the first selectmen to do everything they can to make sure that we have this election."

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