A vote like no other

Casino Pier Seaside Heights
An aerial view of Casino Pier in Seaside Heights after Hurricane Sandy. (Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger)

Some people will vote in National Guard trucks. Others will write on paper ballots in buildings powered by gas-fed generators. An unprecedented number will pick candidates by email or fax.

As it slowly recovers from Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey today faces a major test: maintaining the integrity of a presidential election in a storm-ravaged state.

Exactly one week after Sandy made landfall, wrecking homes, vital infrastructure and the rhythms of modern life, state and county officials scrambled Monday to ensure the election goes as smoothly as possible with a jury-rigged voting system.

Hundreds of damaged or blacked-out polling places have been moved. County clerks will be tested by an onslaught of paper ballots. And election experts raised concerns about the security and legality of the email voting initiative, previously open to U.S. citizens living abroad. It is now open to every New Jerseyan displaced by Sandy.

Gov. Chris Christie, during a press briefing in storm-damaged Keansburg, brushed aside worries about legal challenges and urged residents to cast ballots any way they can.

“I hope people remain calm,” Christie said. “We’re not making it harder to vote. We’re making it easier to vote.”

The election comes at a time of immense difficulty for New Jersey, which is contending with widespread power outages, a disrupted transportation network and a wave of storm refugees whose homes have been heavily damaged or destroyed.

Monday night, more than 703,000 utility customers remained without power or heat as temperatures dipped into the 30s. Some 2.7 million homes and businesses lost power at the height of the storm.

Read the story at NJ.com (Nov. 6, 2012)

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