Hurricane Sandy prompted elected officials to consider many ideas to prepare for storms, as varied as building protective dunes and fortifying subway stops. Now politicians representing areas vulnerable to storms are also considering steps to protect something less obviously threatened by the weather: Election Day. The officials say they are responding to lessons learned during the 2012 presidential election, one week after Hurricane Sandy, when they were forced to scramble to relocate polling places and devise ways for displaced residents to vote. Many of their adjustments were conceived on the fly, and voting in New York and New Jersey was chaotic. “Voting is a fundamental American right, and all states should have a plan to ensure that even a serious man-made or natural disaster doesn’t interfere with that right,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, who plans to introduce legislation to require states to develop disaster contingency plans for elections for federal offices.Full Article: Using Hurricane Sandy as a Lesson for Future Elections - NYTimes.com.
New York: Board Of Elections Workers Unearth Hundreds Of Uncounted 2012 Ballots | New York Daily News
The New York City Board of Elections may insist every vote counts — but Tuesday, the oft-criticized agency admitted that not every vote has yet been counted in the 2012 general election. BOE workers recently unearthed more than 400 votes cast — but never tabulated — in the Hurricane Sandy-disrupted November election, Board President Frederic Umane confirmed at the board’s weekly meeting. The revelation means the city will have to update and certify the results of the 2012 vote yet again. “Doesn’t certification of the election ever finally end? Do they ever get to a final total?” Alan Flacks, a BOE gadfly who raised the issue before the commissioners Tuesday, said after the meeting. “They want to assure every voter — because of scandals in the past where ballots were not counted — that your vote is always counted,” Flacks told the Daily News. “I brought it up because I was upset that I found out that they discovered more uncounted ballots.”Full Article: NYC Board Of Elections Workers Unearth Hundreds Of Uncounted 2012 Ballots | New York Daily News.
New Jersey: Electronic voting after Sandy “A Complete Mess,” says senate president Sweeney | newjerseynewsroom.com
New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney said New Jersey’s county clerks were not properly prepared to handle the state’s requests for election ballots after Hurricane Sandy. Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno allowed state residents affected by the storm to vote through e-mail or fax. Sweeney says county clerks told him they received thousands of requests for ballots in days leading up to the election. “There was no communication with local elections officials,” Sweeney told the Huffington Post. “It was a complete mess.” A spokesman for Guadagno said the decision was necessary because of the devastation of the storm.Full Article: New Jersey's electronic voting after Sandy "A Complete Mess," says senate president Sweeney | newjerseynewsroom.com.
The election boards in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties have certified their election results with the state. Many elections officials, however, expect they’ll be adjusting the totals for some time as provisional and federal overseas ballots continue to trickle into their offices. There aren’t enough outstanding late provisional ballots to alter the results of the Robert Menendez/Joe Kyrillos Senate race or the Barack Obama/Mitt Romney Presidential election. But for local races, such as school board and council elections, incoming ballots could make a difference. In Cumberland County, some of the unofficial election results—from polling places—were overturned by the addition of mail-in and provisional ballot counts. Meanwhile, Gloucester County and Morris County results remained unchanged.Full Article: N.J. county election boards finally get ballots to add up | NJ.com.
Storm-battered New Jersey’s first-in-the-nation decision to accept ballots by email is shaping up to be a model for how not to conduct Internet-based voting. The problems that arose — confusing rules, a laborious verification process and an ongoing tabulation headache — could invalidate many of the more than 10,000 ballots from people who believe they voted electronically. “My email began to run off the charts all day that Sunday, Monday and Tuesday,” Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella said. “We were getting so many requests, we could not open them quickly enough, print out the applications and have our staff answer them all.”Full Article: New Jersey email voting a casualty in Sandy’s wake - Steve Friess - POLITICO.com.
New Jersey: Slammed by Sandy, New Jersey counties seek more time to count ballots | Philadelphia Inquirer
Fourteen New Jersey counties, swamped with provisional and mail-in ballots in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, on Tuesday were granted more time to count. Those counties, including Burlington, Camden and Gloucester, have until next week to certify the results of the Nov. 6 election. That means a few close local races in towns such as Stratford, Laurel Springs, Delanco, Bordentown, and Moorestown will remain undecided a while longer. “Election offices are bombed here” because of overseas and provisional ballots, Camden County Election Commissioner Robert Venuti said Tuesday. The county has yet to start counting those ballots, he said.Full Article: Slammed by Sandy, N.J. counties seek more time to count ballots.
New Jersey voters could cast their ballots starting 15 days before an election under legislation introduced today by Sen. Nia Gill, D-Essex. The bill creates an early voting system, which some legislators and election experts say could have reduced the confusion caused when superstorm Sandy hit a week before this year’s election. Polling places would be open for eight hours a day, seven days a week starting 15 days before Election Day. Early voting would end two days before the election. People who want to vote early would go to a polling place and cast their ballots just like they would on Election Day itself. The legislation would apply to primary and general elections.Full Article: Legislation to create early voting system introduced in Senate | The Political State | NorthJersey.com.
Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the state and 10 days after the election, county election officials are still counting ballots, hoping to make their election certification deadline next Wednesday. Thanks to high voter turnout and an unprecedented set of voting opportunities, election officials in New Jersey’s 21 counties are trying to certify thousands of ballots cast by email and fax. “We followed the requirement that was set forth by the Lieutenant Governor,” said Robert Pantina, the Bergen County Clerk Chief of Staff. “The only reason for a rejection would be if the signatures did not match or if we couldn’t find the voter in the state registration system.”Full Article: NJ e-ballot count a challenge for local election officials | NJ.com.
As if voting by e-mail weren’t insecure enough, an election official in New Jersey has now instructed citizens who can’t get their ballots through to swamped government e-mail servers to send them instead to his personal Hotmail account, according to BuzzFeed. You read that right: Hotmail. For voting. The vote-by-e-mail idea came about as a result of the destruction leveled on New Jersey by Hurricane Sandy, and the concept by itself has some merit as a what-else-are-you-going-to-do emergency measure in a disaster zone.Full Article: New Jersey Election Official Uses Hotmail to Collect Voter Ballots - Bloomberg.
A representative from the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition told Roll Call this afternoon that there were reports of “massive confusion” in Pennsylvania, voting-machine problems in Ohio, long lines in southern Virginia, technical problems in Texas and difficulties in New Jersey. Tanya House, one of the attorneys working with the group, said there are reports that voters in Pennsylvania are showing up at the polls and being told they need photo identification, even though a recent court ruling delayed implementation of the commonwealth’s new voter ID law until after Election Day. Voters there were also receiving mailings as late as Friday that referenced the need for a photo ID. “Massive confusion in Pennsylvania,” House said. “The state did not do a good job about informing people that they do not have to show photo ID in order to vote. Poll workers are telling them they do and people are being turned away.”Full Article: ‘Massive Confusion’ in Pennsylvania, New Jersey a ‘Hot Bed’ of Problems | At the Races.
In anticipation of the 2012 election, the Rockaway Youth Task Force proudly registered about 350 18- to 24-year-olds from the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. But Milan Taylor, the group’s 23-year-old founder and president, doubts any of those newly registered voters will cast a ballot Tuesday. For those entering their second week stranded in the devastated Rockaways without heat or electricity, figuring out where the polling stations have been relocated to isn’t at the top of any to-do list. “We’re trying to convince people to get out and vote. We’ve printed out fliers with the new poll sites,” Taylor said. “But in reality, if you’re trying to figure out how to keep your family warm, voting might be the least of your priorities.”Full Article: Victims of Hurricane Sandy Struggle to Vote on Election Day - The Daily Beast.
New Jersey: E-voting chaos: New Jersey voters sent to official’s personal Hotmail address | Ars Technica
Security experts warned that New Jersey’s plan for e-mail-based voting was a recipe for problems, and anecdotal evidence is starting to trickle in that the system isn’t working as well as organizers had hoped. One address used to request ballots was not even accepting e-mail late Tuesday morning. And in another county, an election official responded to problems with the county e-mail system by inviting voters to send ballot requests to his personal Hotmail address. The unfolding fiasco was first spotted by Buzzfeed, which notes that a number of voters have tweeted about having their e-mails to county voting officials bounce. “Oh no! email box for Essex County Clerk’s box is full. No one can email in their ballots,” tweeted one New Jersey voter last night. Essex County, NJ, is in the suburbs of New York and has nearly 800,000 residents. As one of the largest counties in the state, it is evidently struggling to keep up with the demand for e-mail ballots.Full Article: E-voting chaos: NJ voters sent to official’s personal Hotmail address | Ars Technica.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday New Yorkers affected by superstorm Sandy will be allowed to vote in Tuesday’s U.S. election in any polling place by presenting an affidavit. Cuomo said he was signing an executive order on Monday that will allow voters to cast ballots at voting stations other than the ones to which they are assigned.Full Article: New Yorkers will be allowed to vote in any polling place: governor | Reuters.
New Jersey election officials say they will allow registered voters to vote electronically and will also accept ballots paper through Monday, November 19th, as long as they are postmarked by election day, November 5. The directive is intended to help first responders whose recovery efforts may keep them away from home and their local polling place on election day, as well as those displaced by the storm. “To help alleviate pressure on polling places, we encourage voters to either use electronic voting or the extended hours at county offices to cast their vote,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno.Full Article: Displaced NJ Voters Allowed to Vote by Email | NBC New York.
New Jersey was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, and many parts of the state still lack electricity and basic infrastructure. Countless residents have been displaced, at least temporarily. And election day is on Tuesday. There can be little doubt that many New Jerseyans, whether newly displaced or rendered homebound, who had originally intended to cast their votes at their normal neighborhood polling stations will be unable to do so next week. Unless some new flexible voting options are made available, many people will be disenfranchised, perhaps altering the outcome of races. There are compelling reasons for New Jersey officials to act quickly to create viable, flexible, secure and reliable voting options for their citizens in this emergency.Full Article: Matt Blaze: Voting by Email in New Jersey.
Hurricane Sandy spurred Maryland to suspend its early voting program for a second day on Tuesday and forced the closing of some early voting sites in battleground states like North Carolina and Virginia. But the bigger question that many state and county elections officials in storm-battered states were asking themselves was how to get ready for Election Day next week. The obstacles are formidable. More than 8.2 million households were without power by midday Tuesday, with more than a fifth of them in swing states — a potential problem in an age when the voting process, which once consisted of stuffing paper ballots into boxes, has been electrified. Roads were impassable in some states, and mass transportation was hobbled in others. And Postal Service disruptions threatened to slow the delivery of absentee ballots to election boards.Full Article: Hurricane Sandy Brings Obstacles Before Election - NYTimes.com.
Election officials across the U.S. Northeast say they are determined to minimize disruption to Nov. 6 presidential voting in the region’s hardest-hit areas after super-storm Sandy knocked out power to 8 million customers. Officials are surveying damage and deciding how to conduct voting in areas without power. Service may not be restored for as long as 10 days to more than 2 million New York customers, mostly on Long Island and in New York City. Another 2.6 million customers in New Jersey and 627,000 in Connecticut were without electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Department.Full Article: Sandy-Caused Power Outages May Complicate Election Day - Bloomberg.
If polling places along the East Coast are without power on Election Day, an Omaha company faces a powerful test. With much of the coast bracing for damage and prolonged power outages from the storm called Sandy, election officials and providers of voting equipment, including Omaha-based Electronic Systems & Software, spent Monday hashing out contingency plans, backup contingency plans and backup-backup contingency plans in case polling places remain without power on Nov. 6.Full Article: Omaha firm ES&S plans for the worst on Election Day: No power - Omaha.com.
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.Full Article: Could the election be delayed by Hurricane Sandy?.
With less than a week to go until voters head to the polls, Pennsylvania officials say they’re working with county governments to ensure that after-effects from Hurricane Sandy won’t stop balloting from beginning Tuesday as planned. The Department of State is assessing what election-related obstacles may have been created by this week’s storm, with a report expected by today or Thursday. Counties that shut down their offices as the storm approached have been authorized to extend their absentee-ballot application deadlines to as late as Thursday evening.Full Article: Pennsylvania laboring to fix power at polling sites - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.