Health - November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy will impact polling places across the northeast

As residents of the northeast start to pick up the pieces from this week’s hurricane, Election Day is looming.  New York and New Jersey have seen catastrophic flooding along the coast and states along the eastern seaboard are seeing minor to major impacts on voting already.  Early voting was disrupted in Maryland, West Virginia, New Jersey and North Carolina.  Further issues include electronic voting machines without power, a shortage of paper ballots, polling places that were damaged or without power, voters being unable to physically reach their polling place or submit an absentee ballot by the deadline.

In Pennsylvania, county election offices have been ordered to extend the deadline for absentee ballots.  Some offices had closed Monday and Tuesday due to the weather.  Voters by absentee ballot in counties where offices faced disruptions due to the storm will now have until Monday, November 5 at 5 p.m. to submit ballots; either by mail or in person.  Pennsylvania does not anticipate any further issues for Election Day; the goal at this time is to ensure polling places have power and it has been recommended that counties keep paper ballots on hand if necessary. 

Continued power outages and widespread damage in the rest of the affected areas will necessitate polling places to be moved.  In New Jersey, military trucks will be deployed to serve as polling places and the deadline has been extended for mail in ballots to Election Day by the close of the polls.  Voters in some areas are being urged to vote by mail-in ballot due to their polling place being destroyed.

Despite the major issues states are facing, it isn’t clear what impact the storm will have on the election itself.  There is no indication that early voting has fallen off and opinions range from no impact at all to a loss of some of the popular vote in certain areas due to a lower turnout to even an last minute boost for the President’s handling of the crisis. 

Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend

Don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour this Saturday as Daylight Savings Time (DST) ends and we gain an extra hour of sleep.  At 2 a.m. local time, DST ends and while we lose some daylight towards the evening hours, we do gain a brighter morning.  The “solar winter” or the darkest quarter of the year begins in early November and concludes at the end of January.  And if you despise daylight savings time, you could always move to Arizona, the only place in the lower 48 states that does not observe the time change.  Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa also do not observe Daylight Savings Time.