Cuomo Signs Emergency Order Allowing New Yorkers to Vote Anywhere in State
By Jill Colvin, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer November 5, 2012
NEW YORK CITY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an emergency executive order Monday that will allow voters to cast their ballots at any polling station in the state.
“We're trying to do the best we can. We want everyone to vote," Cuomo said at a press conference Monday evening, hours before voters were set to head to the polls.
Under the system, voters who can't make it to their designated polling places can cast special paper affidavit ballots at any polling site.
But there's several differences from regular voting: Emergency affadavit voters will not be allowed to use the electronic scanning machines and their votes won't be counted until after election day.
In addition, since polling sites only stock ballots for their designated districts, voters may not be able to cast votes in their local State Senate, Assembly and other races because the options won't appear on their ballots. If voters check off candidates who wouldn't have appeared on their normal ballot, those won't be counted. Officials will have to sort through the confusion before the votes can be tallied.
“Your vote will count for those races where your vote is eligible... That is the downside to the system," Cuomo said.
The decision comes as many communities remain without power, with many struggling for basic necessities, such as food and water, leading public officials and good-government groups to sound the alarm that many could end up disenfranchised.
"They [the city] do not have a plan that will ensure that people will have access to the polls,” said Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was among those who had pushed for the executive order Monday.
IF YOU LIVE IN AN AREA THAT WAS NOT AFFECTED BY SANDY:
For most across the city, voting should be relatively normal. Voting machines were saved from damage and polling sites are expected to open on time, at 6 a.m. Still, many sites have changed since four years ago, thanks to redistricting. To find out where you should vote, click here.
IF YOU LIVE IN AN AREA AFFECTED BY SANDY AND WANT TO VOTE IN YOUR DISTRICT:
The Board of Elections has combined or relocated 60 polling sites because of flooding and damage, mainly in low-lying areas of Brooklyn and the Rockaways in Queens — but many sites in the Bronx and Brooklyn have been moved, too.
The move will impact approximately 143,000 voters across city, many of whom will now vote at "super sites" along with others from flood-impact zones, or at two outdoor sites, where the Board of Elections is pitching giant tents.
Voters without Internet service or with spotty cell phone service can also text “NYCVOTES” to 877-877, using a newly-launched system courtesy of NYC Votes! and Mobile Commons.
To help transport voters whose cars have been damaged or who are still without subway service, the MTA will be running free shuttle buses to poll sites in Coney Island, The Rockaway and Staten Island.
The buses will be marked "Voter Shuttle,” and will run every 15 to 20 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. through badly damaged areas straight to polling sites.
MTA buses are also being dispatched to carry poll workers from the Board of Election's Queens headquarters to polling stations in affected areas.
For a full list of routes, click here.
The deadline for absentee ballots to be received and counted has also been extended from seven days to 13 days after Election Day - but ballots still must be postmarked no later than today, Monday, Nov. 5th.
Cuomo: Storm Victims Can Vote Anywhere
By Laura Nahmias Wall Street Journal November 5, 2012
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order Monday allowing New York voters displaced by superstorm Sandy to cast affidavit ballots at polling sites outside their voting districts.
In New York City, officials said as many as 143,000 people wouldn’t be able to vote at their designated polling sites on Tuesday. Thousands of voters on Long Island are also affected by post-storm displacement.
“We want everyone to vote, just because you’re displaced doesn’t mean you should be disenfranchised,” Cuomo said at a news briefing on Monday afternoon, hours away from election day.
Only voters who are registered in New York counties that have been declared federal disaster areas are eligible to vote by affidavit, a spokesman from the governor’s office said.
The governor’s order will allow voters to cast ballots at any polling site. But it could complicate several closely contested races for U.S. Congress, New York State Senate and Assembly, as voters fill out affidavits on ballots printed with candidates for districts that aren’t their own.
“That is the downside to the system, actually,” Cuomo said. “If you vote in a different assembly district, your vote will not count for that assembly district. If you vote in a different senate district, your vote will not count for that senate district.”
Earlier Monday, the city’s Board of Elections announced 61 alternate sites for displaced voters. But good government advocates urged Cuomo to instead allow affidavit voting to prevent potential disenfranchisement.
Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg held discussions over the weekend with city election officials over the plans to handle tens of thousands of displaced people trying to vote Tuesday. On Saturday, similar concerns prompted New Jersey officials to allow voting by fax or email.
In New York, there are no government plans to help ferry displaced voters to polling sites. But relief groups might help fill that need.
“You have a lot of groups doing outreach to try to get people to the polls,” Cuomo said.