November 1, 2012

State Extends Absentee Ballot Deadline in Sandy’s Wake

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New York State has pushed back the deadline for voters to request absentee ballots for the November 6 general election as millions of New Yorkers continue to recover from Superstorm Sandy, the State Board of Elections announced Thursday.

In an emergency meeting Wednesday night, the board voted to extend the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot by mail or fax to Friday, according to a press release. The original deadline was Tuesday.

Preparations for the election have been hampered by the storm, which claimed at least 34 lives in New York and has left over 1.5 million people without power. New York City election board offices in Manhattan and Staten Island were closed Thursday and its phone hotline was not working, according to CNN.

Additionally, the board extended the deadline to submit ballots in person, from Nov. 13 to Nov. 19. Ballots submitted by mail must still be postmarked by Nov. 5, but now have until Nov. 19 to reach local election boards, the state board said.

Changes in polling site locations are possible due to the damage caused by Sandy, Board of Elections spokesperson John Conklin said.

“We don’t know what the changes will be,” Conklin said Thursday, according to Gannett News Service. “The local boards in the storm areas are assessing their poll sites right now, so they’re looking at whether the poll site has power, whether it could have power by Election Day, whether it’s accessible to the general public — can voters get to it? Can the board get to it and get machines there? And is the building structurally sound?”

Conklin also said state law provides for an additional voting day if turnout is below 25 percent in a jurisdiction due to a natural disaster. The make-up day would have to be held within 20 days after the general election. However, Conklin was unsure if such a measure would be necessary.

“It’s a possibility,” Conklin said, according to Gannett News Service. “I can’t rule it out, but it would be determined after Election Day.”

Original Author: David Marten