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.
“Both the magnitude and timing of Sandy caught us by surprise and disrupted elections along the entire Northeast,” Mr. Schumer said. “It can’t be allowed to happen again.”
Mr. Schumer said that New York City and New York State have developed election contingency plans, but that a number of other states have not. His legislation would allow states to request federal money to pay for the development of their plans.
The proposal is the latest effort by elected officials and voting experts to respond to their experience from Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Schumer, a Democrat, is the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections.