How Hurricane Sandy Could Seriously Disrupt the Election

Brenday Loy
Weather Nerd
PJ Media

Additional chaos and “irregularities” on Election Day due to lost “prep” time.

I spoke this morning with my father, a retired elections bureaucrat in Connecticut, and he made the excellent point that the week before the election is very busy for folks like him in his old job, and for registrars of voters, town clerks and the like. They’re testing voting machines, printing ballots or other critical papers, and doing all sorts of other mundane tasks that are critical to assuring a smooth Election Day. If the impact of the storm wipes out all or part of that critical “prep week,” then even if things are relatively “back to normal” by Election Day (by no means a given; see below), there would likely be an invisible storm impact in the form of additional chaos, “irregularities” and all manner of disruptions at the polls — failed voting machines, missing ballots, etc. — simply because the officials had to cut short their preparation, so more mistakes will inevitably happen. This, in turn, will increase the already-high likelihood of cries of fraud (from Republicans) and suppression/disenfranchisement (from Democrats) in the event of any remotely close outcome. Basically, Sandy is likely to make an already highly charged atmosphere surrounding the conduct of the election even moreso…

…Widespread power outages causing disruptions in voting.

This one seems highly likely to occur, in some form or another, in various places. Think back to Hurricane Isaac, or the summer derecho, or last year’s Halloween snowstorm. Widespread power failures don’t just get fixed overnight. A week after the storm, significant portions of the hardest-hit areas will likely still be without power. What will this mean?

Well, the first question to ask is, what kind of voting machines do the potentially affected areas use? has a helpful map showing the types of systems in use, state-by-state — and county-by-county, if you click on an individual state (for instance, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio). You can even click on the county and find out the specific manufacturer of the machine they use there.

As it happens, all of New England and New York apparently uses “optical scan” paper ballots, which means the process of voting can theoretically take place without electrical power (although it may be difficult to see the ballot without lights!). Typically, as I understand it, voters submit their ballots by feeding them into the optical scan machine, which may or may not have enough battery power to continue working in such an environment (I don’t know that answer, and suspect it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer). But, worst-case scenario, presumably the ballots can be placed in a box, then submitted to the optical scan machine later, once power is back on. This could severely delay the counting of ballots (more on that later), but would not prevent people from voting…

…So… can President Obama delay the election? No. Not unilaterally, anyway. Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states: “The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.” What we call “Election Day” is actually the day when we “chuse the Electors” who subsequently vote in the Electoral College. And Congress has, as the Constitution permits, set a uniform Election Day. The “Time of chusing the Electors” is set by 3 USC § 1: “The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.” This year, that’s November 6.

(As for the “Day on which they [the electors] shall give their Votes,” that is set by 3 USC § 7: “The electors of President and Vice President of each State shall meet and give their votes on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December next following their appointment at such place in each State as the legislature of such State shall direct.” This year, that’s December 17.)

Modifying 3 USC § 1, to reset the national Election Day, would require an act of Congress. Such an act would not, per my reading anyway, violate the Constitution, which only requires that “Day on which they [the electors] shall give their Votes…shall be the same throughout the United States”; there is no constitutional requirement that the “Time of chusing the Electors” (Election Day) be the same in every state. However, 3 USC § 1 does set a national election day, so an executive order would not suffice to reset it. An Act of Congress, which of necessity would have to be bipartisan (since the GOP controls the House, and can filibuster in the Senate), would be needed.


The complete article is at PJ Media.

UpdateStatue of Liberty webcam, with sound. H/T Instapundit


CAJ noteWe will be affected by Hurricane Sandy so if you come to the site and don’t find any new posts for a couple of days, you’ll know we’re reading by candle light and unable to fire up the iMac. Stay safe, friends, if you are also in this path of this massive storm.

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