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Sandy may have an impact on elections

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 01 2012 09:18:48 PM CDT
Updated On: Nov 02 2012 05:22:24 AM CDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

In the aftermath of Sandy, millions of people in New York and New Jersey are busy dealing with major power outages and massive amounts of damage.  With the Presidential election days away, political experts say there's a good chance voter turnout could be impacted.

"How do you make a transition from recovery and grief to going out the very next week and voting in a presidential election?" said Muhlenberg College political science professor Chris Borick.  "That's going to be a challenge for a lot of individuals."

Borick says there's also concern the outcome of the election could be affected --   especially if paper ballots or other methods have to be used for folks to vote.

"Anytime you're making changes to the voting systems this late in the game, it adds possible errors that could really come into play if the elections are close and we're counting ballots right to the end," explained Borick.

He says it's highly unlikely New York or New Jersey will flip from blue to red.  And while he doesn't expect this presidential race to drag out, there's always a chance.

"You can absolutely have challenges and re-counts going on and that could push the actual decision and the final decision on who won this election past that night, and maybe into a few days after," Borick said.

States have the power to decide what methods to use for casting ballots if electronic systems won't work.  Congress sets the date for presidential elections, but individual state legislatures can change the date if it's absolutely necessary.

"It's unprecedented," added Borick.  "If you look at American presidential elections we've never backed up an election."

State officials in New York and New Jersey say they're extending deadlines for absentee ballots, and have plans in place for polling places in storm-battered communities.