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Storm Update | Hurricane Sandy causes campaign cancellations, polling changes

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 07:11

To Tufts, Hurricane Sandy meant power outages, a day off from classes and minor flooding. Nationwide, the storm’s effects were much stronger, devastating areas of New Jersey and New York. The storm also disrupted the presidential election.

The specific effects of Sandy vary drastically from state to state, bringing challenges that range from power outages to floods to snowstorms. Obama canceled campaign events last week in Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio in order to focus on managing disaster relief efforts, while Mitt Romney swiftly converted a planned campaign rally into a storm relief benefit in Ohio.

The swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia are all highly reliant on electronic voting machines, according to a USA Today article. In states that are not used to using paper ballots, the storm brought on a slew of logistical nightmares, including the cancellation of early−voting days in all of Maryland and in parts of Virginia and North Carolina.

In New Jersey, residents affected by the storm have been designated as “overseas voters” to make voting easier. This means they can request a ballot by email or fax and return the ballot and a signed waiver of secrecy by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, which some experts see as a security risk. Displaced New Jersey residents are also permitted to submit a provisional ballot at any open polling location across the state.

The state is also using military trucks to replace damaged polling places.

In New York City, 59 polling places have been moved due to damage from the storm. These changes are expected to affect 143,000 residents, according to the New York Daily News.

Both candidates have had to tread carefully in the aftermath of the storm, being cautious not to use up any resources that could be used in relief efforts.

“This is an example yet again of the president having to put his responsibilities as commander−in−chief and as leader of the country first, while at the same time he pursues his responsibilities as candidate for election,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told CNN shortly before the storm struck.

As storm−ravaged areas rush to make sure their citizens will be able to cast their votes, only time will tell if the effects of Sandy will actually change the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. Professor of Political Science Jeffrey Berry expressed doubt that the hurricane will alter the election results.

“I don’t believe the hurricane will have a significant impact on the outcome of the election,” Berry told the Daily in an email.

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