NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Election officials in the Tri-State Area are vowing that power outages and storm damage won’t prevent people from voting in one of the tightest and most expensive races ever.
Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an order Monday night allowing New Yorkers to vote anywhere, but if they don’t vote in their regular polling place they would not be able to vote in local races, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“We want everyone to vote. Just because you’re displaced doesn’t mean you should be disenfranchised. I’m signing an executive order today that will allow affidavit voting, where you can go to any polling place, sign an affidavit, and you can vote in that polling place.” Cuomo said. “And your vote will count.”
1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reports
The governor said New Yorkers should attempt to vote at their regular polling place. If they cannot reach their polling site or their site is shutdown, only then should they vote at an alternative site. The only votes that will count are the votes that voters would have legally been allowed to cast at their regular polling site.
The federally-declared disaster counties include: Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.
“Hurricane Sandy has already disrupted the lives of countless New Yorkers, but we will not let it disrupt anyone seeking to exercise the most fundamental of democratic rights: the right to vote,” Cuomo said. “Even in times of great tragedy and suffering, New Yorkers understand that we must continue to do all that we can to maintain the integrity of our system. That is why the State is making every effort to ensure that voters who are displaced from their homes because of the storm will still be able to make their voices heard on Election Day.”
In New York City alone, more than 1,200 polling sites sustained damage from Sandy and won’t be ready in time for Tuesday. Officials said 61 needed to be moved.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the polling-place changes would impact nearly 143,000 New Yorkers.
“Over the next day, it’s going to be critical that the Board of Elections communicate this new information to their poll workers,” he said.
“Maybe the fact that it’s a little harder to do it this time in New York will give them to impetus to do it,” Bloomberg said.
Some will be voting in temporary tents. Others will be taken by shuttle bus to polling spots moved miles away.
“Our staff, with the help of other local and state agencies, has been working around the clock to ensure a smooth Election Day for all New York voters,” said BOE President Maria R. Guastella in a statement. “Poll site relocations and modifications were deemed an important and necessary change in order to accommodate all voters.”
“It’s important for people to come out and vote even if it’s a little more difficult for them,” BOE Commissioner Frederic Umane told CBS 2’s Kramer. “If takes a little bit longer, if you have to go through a couple more hoops, we’re doing the best we can under some difficult circumstances. It’s really out fundamental freedom.”
Voters in New York City can also cast absentee ballots, but must apply for one by the end of the day Monday. To find your polling in New York City, call 3-1-1 or visit www.vote.nyc.ny.us.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said only a handful of polling places won’t have power for Tuesday.
“We’re pretty good going into Election Day,” he said.
In Nassau County, around 30 to 40 polling locations out of 375 were expected to be moved because of storm-related problems.
Elections Commissioner William Biamonte said he didn’t think polling-place changes would keep people from coming out to vote.
“I think people will be voting in less-than-optimal situations, but they will not be voting in a way that disenfranchises them,” Biamonte said.
In Suffolk County, nine polling stations have been relocated.
A toll-free number has been established by the New York State Board of Elections to help voters with questions, poll site changes and absentee ballots. The number is 1-855-NYS-SANDY (1-855-697-7263).
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also established a hotline for Election Day. People can call 800-771-7755 or email email@example.com any time between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Tuesday to report problems at the polls.
In New Jersey, polling places with power will be open as normal while those without power will allow voters to cast their vote by paper ballot.
“I have every expectation that all of the polling places will be open,” New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said.
Residents who can’t make it to their polling place can vote via email or fax. They can submit an application to their county clerk through either method and a ballot will be sent to them.
“Listen, go vote tomorrow,” Gov. Chris Christie said. “There’s only 100 polling places across the state that had to be moved or changed. For most people in New Jersey who are watching or listening, you go to your normal polling place.”
A list of county clerk websites, phone numbers and fax numbers are available by clicking here. Ballot applications can be downloaded from the state’s website.
If you need information on your polling station, text “877877” with your home address.
In Connecticut, utility companies promised that all polling places in that state would have power Tuesday.
According to the Connecticut Secretary of the State’s website, two polling places in Bridgeport and New London have been relocated. For more information, click here.
Polls in New York are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., in New Jersey from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and in Connecticut from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
OBAMA, ROMNEY BOUNCING AROUND THE COUNTRY
Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama spent Monday crisscrossing key battleground areas of the county in a frantic attempt to get out the vote in a tight campaign that is asking voters to choose between two very different visions for the world’s most powerful country, CBS 2’s Kramer reported.
“We can begin a better tomorrow. Tomorrow with the help of people in Florida, that’s going to happen,” Romney said during a campaign stop.
While emphasizing the stark differences between himself and President Obama on everything from health care to the economy to foreign policy, Republican challenger Romney was on a tear through states that will decide whose vision prevails. Among the states Romney visited Monday were Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio.
Spending his final hours in those three states, President Obama used star power to get supporters to the polls. Bruce Springsteen was of special significance because he comes from storm-damaged New Jersey, and on election eve Obama was anxious to play up his leadership during Hurricane Sandy.
“We will walk with these folks whose lives have been upended every step on the hard road ahead,” Obama said.
The polls say the race is deadlocked, though some give the president a slight edge in the critical battleground states, but turnout and getting voters to the polls will be the deciding factor, and this year’s tight race raises the possibility of a replay of the 2000 election, which was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court. Republican George W. Bush won the presidency and the Electoral College vote while Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote
The cost of the presidential campaign has surged past the $2 billion mark. Most feel the deciding factor will be the get-out the vote operations mounted by both camps.
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