Could the election be delayed by Hurricane Sandy?

Slate has an Explainer on the possibility of a delay. The power to change election dates lies with the states, not with the president. 

"Although states may reschedule a canceled or suspended election at their discretion (or according to their individual election laws), they must choose their presidential electors by the “safe harbor” deadline, which is six days before the Electoral College votes," L.V. Anderson writes. That deadline is Dec. 17. 

Don Palmer, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections,  said there is no provision in state code for the election to be delayed. That's why his office and that of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell are focusing on arranging with power companies to restore power first to polling locations. They are also making sure voting equipment is battery-operated and that batteries are charged. And they are setting up contingency polling places in the event that polling locations are unusable for reasons going beyond power issues, such as flooding.

“Obviously the general election is next Tuesday, and the election is going to have to take place,” Palmer said. “There’s nothing in the code to allow for moving Election Day.”

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said Monday that he is anticipating that some of the storm’s impacts will linger into next week, meaning the agency may be called upon to assist with cleanup process so that voters can get to the polls on Election Day.

"We'’ve been working, our chief counsel has been working on making sure we have proper guidance on what to do if we need to support areas that are affected,”" Fugate said, adding that his agency will only step in to assist with voting if state elections officials and governors request assistance.

Asked earlier about the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the election, President Obama said, “I am not worrying at this point about the impact on elections … the election will take care of itself next week. Right now, our number one priority is to make sure we are saving lives.”

Amy Gardner and Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Ed O'Keefe · October 29, 2012