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Monday, November 5, 2012

Election Problems Follow In Sandy’s Wake

A voter arriving for early voting at a polling place at the Wicomico County Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Md. (Alex Brandon/AP)

New Jersey’s Secretary of State Kim Guadagno says that voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy will be able to vote by fax or email on Tuesday.

But some  election watchdog groups are worried about the security of letting residents vote electronically.

Rutgers-Newark Law School Professor Penny Venetis says that when New Jersey residents living overseas vote by email, they also must send a paper ballot so that vote-counters can verify the results.

She says that she wants New Jersey election officials to put in place the same rules for people displaced by last week’s storm to vote online.

Venetis says that if the state does not clarify the rules, election advocates might file a lawsuit later Monday to try to stop the email voting.

In Ocean County, New Jersey, home to Seaside Heights and Matoloking, the election board plans to offer other alternatives.

George Gilmore, Ocean County election board chair, said they will send a mobile voting station to shelters.

New Jersey is widely expected to go to President Obama, so there’s a concern that New Jersey voters will stay away from the polls, feeling their vote doesn’t matter.

But Gilmore says turnout is crucial for local sheriff, municipal and school committee and Congressional races.

New Jersey has traditionally seen 70 percent voter turnout during general elections, and Gilmore says he feels voters and election workers will rise to the challenge.

“I think this is going to be our finest hour,” Gilmore said. “I think we will have a turnout rate close to what we had four years ago.”

The Associated Press contributed to this reporting.

Guest:

  • George Gilmore, Ocean County election board chair.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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