Despite storm damage, election officials hopeful

Associated Press Modified: November 4, 2012 at 6:32 pm •  Published: November 4, 2012
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But Biamonte said he didn't expect that the problems would keep large numbers of people from casting ballots.

"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.

Yet for some residents of the hardest-hit areas, the hassle of having to travel even a few miles to find an open polling place was likely to be one burden too many.

William Agosto, who lost everything he owned when his basement apartment in the Far Rockaway area of Queens flooded, said he hoped to vote but couldn't guarantee he would have the energy or the time.

"I'm going to try," he said, clutching a garbage bag filled with donated clothing. "I have so much on my mind. What I'm going through, it's too much."

On Staten Island, where two polling locations were being relocated due to storm problems, bus driver Jim Holden said the election should be postponed.

"People can't get out to vote. Half these cars are under water," he said.

New Jersey residents driven from their homes by the storm were being given extra voting options. Registered voters will be able to apply for an absentee ballot by fax or email right through 5 p.m. on Election Day, and cast it via fax or email until 8 p.m. Displaced voters can also cast provisional ballots at any polling place in the state.

Monmouth County spokeswoman Laura Kirkpatrick said elections officials there had consolidated some polling locations and moved others, but expected to have working polls for all 53 municipalities come Election Day. She said the county was confident enough that it was encouraging people to vote in person, rather than scramble to file an absentee ballot by email.

"We are looking very good," she said.

Kirkpatrick said officials were somewhat concerned that residents might misunderstand the email voting option and try casting write-in ballots by sending messages to election officials, rather than go through the formal process of obtaining, signing and scanning an official ballot.

John Conklin, a spokesman for the New York Board of Elections, said some counties were training additional poll workers. The companies that make the state's electronic voting machines had sent scores of generators from other parts of the country to ensure enough power. And each polling location will be able to switch to paper ballots, if there is an unexpected loss of power on Election Day.

Utility companies in Connecticut promised that all polling places in that state would have power Tuesday.

___

Associated Press Writers Michael Hill, Christina Rexrode and Julie Walker contributed to this report.



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