There was the actual storm. Then there is the metaphorical perfect storm. With polls showing a close presidential race, fears have risen that the integrity of Tuesday’s presidential election could be thrown into doubt by either damage from super storm Sandy, which has created enormous voting challenges in New York and New Jersey, or the confluence of ballot box disputes in battleground states. Armies of lawyers were at the ready Monday as tussles continued over voting, especially in Ohio and Florida, the two states considered most likely to throw the presidential election into an overtime ballot dispute reminiscent of the Bush-Gore race of 2000.
David Beattie, a veteran Democratic pollster in Florida, predicted litigation in his state and Ohio whatever the outcome Tuesday. “I would be shocked if there wasn’t,” he said. “Democrats will see it as precedent for how future elections are held. And Republicans will do it if Obama’s elected because they have nothing to lose.”
Seldom, if ever, has an election for president been preceded by so much angst over the mechanics of voting. “I’m 54 years old, and I’ve never seen an election like this,” said Patrice Jones of Temple Terrace, Fla., near Tampa, who was picking up an absentee ballot Monday. She said there always seemed to be interminable lines at the early voting site near her house, as there have been at many such sites in Florida.
The lines in Florida were “a clear legacy of the effort to restrict voting this year,” said Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, a nonpartisan think tank that studies voting issues. The center has been among the voting rights groups complaining that Florida was threatening the right to vote by eliminating early voting in some counties on Sundays — a popular time for African American voters — and cutting back on other hours when many voters might be free.