Hurricane Sandy’s election impact: What if polling places can’t open by Election Day?

Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast on Sunday, October 28 and Monday, October 29,  slightly more than a week before Election Day 2012.

Suppose the storm had hit on Election Day or just one or two days prior to Election Day. A huge percentage of the polling places in the Northeast would not be able to open, and millions of people would not be able to get to their polling places if they were open.

As things stand now, many polling places will not be open, and thousands of voters will not be able to get to their voting venue. The Constitution says that Election Day must be on the first Tuesday in November following the first Monday in November. However, there is a provision to change that should it be necessary. The CNN web site reports:

Only Congress can change Election Day, according to an 1845 law. If it opts to alter the timetable — something never previously done — every state would have to be included.

Of course, in the case of Hurricane Sandy, it’s possible that a large percentage of the members of Congress would not have been able to get to Washington for a vote. Others might be able to reach Washington, but would choose to not do so because they would prefer to campaign.

The situation now is fraught with difficulties. States that have been affected by Sandy are taking various measures to address the problems. You can read about them by clicking here.

Arthur Lieber Arthur Lieber (309 Posts)

Since 1969, Arthur Lieber has been teaching and working in non-profit educational organizations. His focus has been on promoting critical, creative, and enjoyable learning for students in informal settings. In the 2010 mid-term elections, he was the Democratic nominee for US Congress from Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.