Sandy clean-up effort on hold as citizens are driven to vote
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Tuesday 06 November 2012
Storm-ravaged residents in New Jersey can still cast their ballots this morning after election officials faced such a rush of electronic balloting requests from displaced residents that they were forced to extend email polling until the end of the week.
The state where Superstorm Sandy came ashore last week had earlier announced plans to allow storm-hit locals to vote by email, as long they supplemented their ballot by sending in a paper copy. But in a sign of just how many were forced to resort to electronic voting, officials were inundated with requests yesterday. The time involved in processing each electronic ballot eventually forced the state to extend its deadline for e-ballots until Friday.
The special measure was announced as parts of the north-east geared up to face another storm. Though not expected to be as severe as Sandy, the coming weather system – dubbed the "Nor'easter" by forecasters – is threatening to add to the misery of locals. In anticipation, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the closure of city parks and beaches for at least 24 hours, starting today. He also said officials would try and evacuate people from low-lying areas owing to risks of another storm surge. "We just don't need to send our first responders into the ocean to save someone who is being foolish," Mr Bloomberg said.
Meanwhile yesterday, long queues formed as voters were bussed in or drove to relocated polling centres, while elected officials attempted to ease the strain by allowing voters upended by Superstorm Sandy to cast provisional ballots wherever possible in their state.
But Sandy's lashing meant that the day was not without chaos and confusion. The New York Times reported that vote scanning machines being used for the first time at many of New York City's polling stations malfunctioned, complicating the already challenging process.
With many communities still labouring on without access to electricity, some polling stations had to take unusual steps to ensure voting went ahead. In Staten Island, which was among the worst-hit areas as the storm swept across the north-east last week, a public school set up flares at its entrance to provide light. Voting machines, meanwhile, had be to retrieved from inside the school building and installed in tents. Residents had to endure plunging temperatures to cast their ballots.
A spokesman for the New Jersey elections authority told the Associated Press that officials had worked hard to restore power to polling stations. Fewer than a hundred were said to be still without electricity, compared with as many as 800 in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
In New York, there were reports of long queues at a polling station on the Upper West Side, as officials attempted to sort local voters from those who had been displaced by Sandy. Facing a long wait, and with apparently no disabled access, people were said to be growing increasingly upset in the morning.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Kim Jong-un proves 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...