Post-tropical cyclone Sandy has left more than 8.2 million people without power in the northeastern United States. There is potential for it to impact the election on Tuesday, according to University of Missouri Political Science Professor Peverill Squire.
“We’ll have to see how long it takes to get power restored in a number of places, given that we’ve gone to electronic voting in many places. We’ll have to see whether everybody’s got the power to do it. I think we’ll probably be able to have everything up and running by next week but there may be some questions in a few places.”
Congress could delay the election if needed, but Squire says that is unlikely. “They would have to be having high level discussions right now with leaders of Congress and at this point I don’t think anybody’s ready to do that.”
If the election were delayed in the northeast, it would have to be delayed nationwide. “There is some legal requirement that we do it all at the same time. That’s something that Congress has pushed towards over the last couple of decades.”
He says areas hit by Sandy could certainly see lower voter turnout. “There is a possibility that some places, say West Virginia (that has been hit by a lot of snow) or places where there have been floods, people have been dislocated. It may be difficult for them to turn out and there are some opportunities for voting officials to expand the time that people have to vote in terms of how long the polls are kept open or make it a little easier to get absentee ballots to people.”
Squire says if the storm results in a lower voter turnout in a few states, he expects any impact on the presidential race to be within the margin of error. “But of course, given how close this race is, I suppose it could have some ability to tip things one way or the other.”