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Hudson Valley Press

November 5th, 2012

How to Vote if you were Affected by Hurricane Sandy

Governor Cuomo Gives Update Regarding Preparations for Approaching Storm, Power and Gas Issues, and Election Day
ALBANY - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an executive order that will greatly facilitate voting for New Yorkers who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Executive Order provides for any voter who is registered in a federally-declared disaster county to vote on an affidavit ballot at any poll site in New York State, regardless of where they are registered. In addition, the Executive Order also mandates every board of elections in New York State to send such affidavit ballot to the board of elections where the voter is actually registered, so that the vote is counted in the correct place. Such a vote will count for the office of President and United States Senator and for any other candidate and ballot initiative that appears on the official ballot where the voter is registered.

First responders and emergency workers involved in the Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts are also included in the Executive Order if they reside in one of the federally-declared disaster counties.

New Yorkers should attempt to vote at their regular polling place. If they cannot reach their polling site or their site is shutdown, only then should they vote at an alternative site. The only votes that will count are the votes that voters would have legally been allowed to cast at their regular polling site.

The federally-declared disaster counties include: Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.

“Hurricane Sandy has already disrupted the lives of countless New Yorkers, but we will not let it disrupt anyone seeking to exercise the most fundamental of democratic rights: the right to vote,” said Governor Cuomo. “Even in times of great tragedy and suffering, New Yorkers understand that we must continue to do all that we can to maintain the integrity of our system. That is why the State is making every effort to ensure that voters who are displaced from their homes because of the storm will still be able to make their voices heard on Election Day.”

The County Boards of Elections (CBEs) were directed to use all available means to:

  1. Provide notice to election inspectors and post the provisions of the Executive Order conspicuously on the boards’ websites and at poll sites in New York State giving instruction on how to implement such Order;
  2. Instruct poll workers to provide affidavit ballots and guidance to voters in accordance with the Order
  3. Provide notice and guidance to voters in accordance with this Executive Order that indicates that
    • voters who reside in the counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, or Westchester, or in New York City may receive and complete an affidavit ballot at any polling place in New York State
    • the voter’s vote will count for the office of President and United States Senator and it will also count for any other candidate for office and district as well as any ballot initiative that appears on the official ballot in the voter’s home district.

For example, a voter staying with family in Orange County who was displaced from Westchester, would be entitled to vote for statewide contests and Supreme Court (because those 2 counties share a judicial district) and possibly a Congressional or State Senate contest. A voter who sought refuge further upstate might be eligible to vote only in the statewide contests, as they would share no other offices/contests.

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