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Hurricane Sandy victims vote, then evacuate as weather continues to impact Election 2012

Washington Post Staff

While many voters are battling long lines to cast their ballots in the 2012 presidential election, citizens in areas heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy are struggling with how to vote at all. Voters in New Jersey and New York faced confusion as temporary polling places and alternative voting methods were being established. As reported by William Branigin:

With more than 1 million homes and businesses still without power eight days after Sandy’s onslaught, and with polling stations among the thousands of buildings damaged, voting in the storm-ravaged states involved unaccustomed challenges. The governors of New York and New Jersey invoked extraordinary measures to ensure that people would be able to participate, and many voters welcomed the opportunity to exercise a right that they previously took for granted.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) issued an executive order allowing displaced residents to vote by provisional ballot at any polling place in the state for president and statewide office holders.

“We want everyone to vote,” he said. “Just because you are displaced doesn’t mean you should be disenfranchised.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) ordered election authorities to allow displaced citizens to vote by e-mail and fax. But officials later said those voters would still be required to submit a paper ballot along with the electronic filing.

According to recent polls, Hurricane Sandy may have had a political impact on the electorate as well. The Fix’s Chris Cillizza wrote:

Roughly two-thirds (67 percent) of likely voters in the NBC-WSJ survey said they approved of how Obama handled himself in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, while just 16 percent disapproved. Those approval numbers are slightly lower but broadly consistent with the large majorities of voters who expressed approval of Obama’s handling of the storm in Washington Post-ABC News tracking polls. And, given that a majority of likely voters said that Obama’s actions in Sandy’s aftermath would be either a major (23 percent) or minor (28 percent) factor in their vote, it’s hard not to conclude that the storm wound up being a net political positive for the president.

Hurricane Sandy victims aren’t in the clear yet, though. Another nor’easter is expected strike the East Coast Wednesday, and some residents have already been ordered to evacuate:

Faced with a nor’easter that is forecast to strike Wednesday, bringing another round of coastal flooding to the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England, New Jersey’s Brick Township issued mandatory evacuation orders for residents in low-lying waterfront areas by 6 p.m. Tuesday. The new storm is expected to pack heavy rains, wind gusts of up to 60 mph and a tidal surge of three to four feet above normal in some areas.

Captial Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow reports that while Wednesday’s nor-easter was originally predicted to spare New York and New Jersey from the brunt of the storm, the forecast has now changed:

Unfortunately, this morning’s models have nudged the storm closer to the coast again, putting back in play the possibility of an unwelcome blow for areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

After reviewing the overnight models which shifted the storm farther out to sea, forecasters at the National Weather Service gently backed off predictions for highs winds and coastal flooding. The NWS Hydrometeorological Prediction Center wrote in its morning discussion:


On its Facebook page, the Eastern Region of the NWS added:

The winds will not be quite as strong, with the windy conditions primarily right along the coast. Wind gusts along the coast could still reach 40 to 50 mph, especially over Cape Cod.

- The track further east will also cause the winds to be more northerly than northeasterly, which will reduce the potential coastal flooding.

But the latest models suggest the NWS’ previous warning that the storm represents a “dangerous situation” for the regions hit hardest by Sandy may turn out most prescient - although a shift back out to sea could happen too.

This is a very delicate forecast where slight shifts in where the storm develops and how rapidly will have profound effects on local conditions.

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