The New York state Board of Elections is preparing for the worst as they are releasing information about possible back-up scenarios if the election turn out is significantly lower than expected because of damage from Hurricane Sandy.
If less than 25% of registered voters show up to polling stations on Tuesday, they are prepared to extend the voting deadline past Tuesday evening, meaning that New Yorkers may have two days to cast their ballots.
The news comes just a day after neighboring New Jersey, which is considered the worst-hit of all of the East Coast because of the hurricane, announced that they will allow residents to email their votes in if they are unable to get to a polling station.
Election organizers are grappling with ways to make sure that the presidential election is not thwarted by any turnout issues stemming from Monday’s storm.
The New York board, which consists of two Democrats and two Republicans, will make the final decision Tuesday over whether or not they will hold a second day of voting.
They will be comparing this year’s turnout to that of previous elections, where typical turnout hovers around 60% of registered voters.
While power was restored to Manhattan on Friday, thousands remain in the dark. Progress is being made daily, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has urged utility companies to prioritize polling sites so that voters can cast their ballots safely.
“We’ve provided lists of poll sites to local utilities, and some of the voting machines do have battery backup,” board of elections spokesman Tom Connolly said.
“We are also planning to get generators to polling sites, but it’s not like we have an unlimited supply of generators.”
Hurricane Sandy, that barreled down on New Jersey and New York on October 29, has claimed 110 lives, displaced thousands and left millions without power for days.
Flooding, damaged roads and power outages have forced many Jerseyites from their homes and the electronic option will allow first responders who are working away from home and those displaced by the storm to cast their ballot.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his counterpart in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo, have been reviewing how to prepare their respective states for November 6 – while simultaneously trying to restore electricity and access to food and water.
New Jersey will allow any state resident that has been displaced by the storm to qualify as an overseas voter, meaning they can submit their ballot by fax or email.
Governor Chris Christie also mandated that county clerks open their offices over the weekend to allow early voting and has called for paper ballots to be sent to polling stations still without power.