New York: Easing election day procedures for New Yorkers struggling in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that registered voters can cast their ballot at any poll site in the state for the presidential elections today.
The states of New York and New Jersey, worst hit by last week's massive storm, are taking unprecedented measures to ensure residents are able to cast their votes despite dealing with widespread power outages and displacement.
Cuomo signed an executive order that would enable voters who are 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.
The order 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.
"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," Cuomo said.
"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."
Cuomo, however, said New Yorkers should attempt to vote at their regular polling place but if they cannot reach their polling site or their site is shutdown, only then should they vote at an alternative site.
The federally-declared disaster counties include Bronx, New York, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester.
The Governor's order also extends to first responders and emergency workers involved in recovery efforts who reside in one of the federally-declared disaster counties.
Several polling sites in the region have been rendered inoperable due to power outages, flooding and disrupted public transit system in Sandy's aftermath.
The County Boards of Elections (CBEs) have been directed to ensure poll workers provide affidavit ballots and guidance to voters in accordance with the order.