ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York state law allows for an extra day of voting if turnout is drastically suppressed because of a natural disaster like Superstorm Sandy. That could potentially postpone state, congressional and even presidential election results beyond Tuesday’s Election Day.
State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin confirmed Friday that the law permits election commissioners to create a second day of voting if the turnout in any county is less than 25 percent of the total number of registered voters.
The commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, would make that decision after Election Day. Any second day would have to be scheduled within 20 days.
Something like this has never happened before, but due to the extraordinary circumstances currently hitting New York, it could.
Officials were checking polling sites Friday to make sure they can open Tuesday.
Typical turnout is about 60 percent in most areas.
With every state along Sandy’s destructive path using electronic voting machines, election officials were pressing local electric companies to make restoring power a priority to places that were to serve as polling places.
“We’ve provided lists of poll sites to local utilities, and some of the voting machines do have battery backup,” New York State Board of Elections spokesman Tom Connolly said. “We are also planning to get generators to polling sites, but it’s not like we have an unlimited supply of generators.”
Elected leaders across the states affected by Sandy were taking different approaches to the impending vote tallies.
In hard-hit New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg referred all voting-related questions to the city Board of Elections. But he said recovery crews were working hard to restore electricity to schools, many of which serve as polling places. Voting should proceed smoothly in those places, he said.
“There are some where there were transformers in the basement that were damaged — the Board of Elections will have to find alternative locations,” Bloomberg said at a news conference.
Elections spokeswoman Valerie Vazquez said officials were determining the condition of polling places around the five New York boroughs even as the storm stripped power from the agency’s headquarters, forcing workers into temporary office space.
“Our trucks are loaded and ready for delivery of all voting materials and equipment once we know that sites have not been damaged,” Vazquez said. Elections officials, she said, “will be working around the clock and through the weekend to make sure that all voting sites receive everything they need to be up and running on Election Day.”
Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)