The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on Staten Island in New York City. Screen grab from a video published on YouTube by RealEstateSINY.
The hurricane that hit the United States’ east coast more than a week ago isn’t done wreaking havoc. With polling stations flooded, thousands of people displaced, and major gas shortages, voters are finding it hard to cast their ballots.
New York and New Jersey, the states hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy, have had to take emergency measures to make sure that people could vote during Tuesday’s elections. New Jersey is allowing people to vote by fax or email. New York, at first, simply relocated 60 damaged polling sites, but due to transportation problems, many people complained they would never be able to reach their designated site. In a last-minute decision on Monday, New York’s governor issued an executive order allowing New Yorkers to vote at any polling station in the state, not necessarily the one they were registered at.
However, the hurricane’s aftermath is still preventing some of our Observers from voting.
In New Jersey, people wait in line for hours at gas stations. Both New York and New Jersey have been hit by a severe gas shortage in the wake of the hurricane. Screen capture from a video posted on YouTube by Julian Garcia.

“I can’t drive home because of the gas shortage”

Trevor Kane is a university student.
I go to college in upstate New York, but am registered to vote back home in Connecticut, so my mother went to the post office to send me my absentee ballot last Monday. The postal workers told her there was no way I would get it on time due to the effects of the hurricane. The alternative would have been for me to drive home, but there was no way to do that because there is a gas shortage and there’s still major damage on the roads.
I’m very disappointed that the hurricane robbed me of my vote, because this would have been my first time voting, and I’m a huge Romney supporter.

“My husband was sent out to repair electrical lines, so he wasn’t able to get his absentee ballot”

Colleen Atherton lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
My husband, Brenton, is a lineman, meaning he repairs electrical power lines. Right now, he is working more than 16 hours a day to repair damage from hurricane Sandy in New Jersey [Editors’ Note: He is so busy he did not have time to talk to us]. Sadly, he won’t be able to vote!
Here in Missouri, we have the option to vote via absentee ballot, so he requested one two weeks prior to the due date. He was supposed to be home in time to fill out the ballot and send it in, but because of this emergency situation, he wasn’t able to get it. The local election officials suggested that I express-mail the ballot to him where he was working, and then have him express-mail it back to them. However, overnight express mail is very expensive, and because he is working such long hours and moving around a lot, it would be very difficult for him to get it and send it back. We are frustrated with our election officials’ unwillingness to work with us during this crisis.

“Without the executive order, I would have had to walk for hours to reach my polling station”

Laura Rink is a social worker. She worked on the Obama campaign in 2008.
I live in lower Manhattan, but my building was damaged by the hurricane, so I evacuated to the neighbouring state of New Jersey, where I work, to live with friends. I’m not able to vote in New Jersey, since I’m registered in New York. On Monday, it still looked like I had to vote in the lower east side of Manhattan, which was impossible to get to by train because of the hurricane damage down there. And I couldn’t drive there due to a gas shortage. I was thinking of taking all day off to walk there – this would have taken me hours – but I had already missed too many days of work due to the hurricane. I was really concerned – many of my neighbours were in the same situation as I was.
I kept on calling the New York City board of elections, but they weren’t answering their phone line – I guess they were receiving a lot of calls from panicked people. However, the executive order made at the last minute now allows me to vote anywhere in the state of New York, so I will be able to get cast my ballot today after all [Editor's Note: Trains are running normally in parts of New York spared by the hurricane].