USA: Massachusetts - Sandy's Vote
This is the first post in a three-part series on the US Presidential election, written from the point of view of a leader that is not old enough to vote.
It seems nature always has the final say. In this case, nature went by Sandy. With cars stranded in streets and power outlets criss-crossing neighborhoods, it’s hard for some people to think about tomorrow’s US Presidential election.
For a lot of people, what was left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy (possibly close to $50 billion in damages according to one catastrophe-risk analysis firm) clearly outweighs the importance of the race for presidency. And who could argue with that? With every tick of the death toll slowly rising, more and more families along the US’ east coast are picking up the pieces in their personal losses. It’s impossible to compare such excruciating grief with checking a box, or clicking a button, or getting an “I voted” sticker with a little flag on it. So it’s not hard to imagine that some people might not be as focused on tomorrow’s election after waiting three hours in line for gas, right?
I’ve definitely read my fair share of articles quoting residents of places hardest hit by the storm. “I can’t think about voting,” seems like it’s making the headlines. Of course that’s understandable - how could it not be their focus? But that doesn’t change the fact that across the country, families are wrestling both with the poverty line and with “Help Wanted” ads. And there are those who are deeply concerned with an ever-changing climate and environment, as evidenced by Hurricane Sandy herself. Maybe voting doesn’t seem like a priority, but it can define so much about our lives for the next for years. I can only hope that my fellow citizens will brave the challenges to voting tomorrow, just as they did with the superstorm, in order to have their voices heard in the ever-so-close 57th Presidential Election.
I have to say, however important, voting tomorrow will require patience and patriotism. Gas shortages and wide-spread power loss are just a few of the challenges Hurricane Sandy dropped off. Beyond this storm, and even with the voting regulations put in place by HAVA (Help America Vote Act), incoming reports paint a picture of voters finding it much too difficult to reach the polls, and for states to receive the votes.
Nonetheless, the country and officials are doing it’s best to adapt in the face of challenges presented by the storm. According to the Huffington Post, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is allowing New Jersey residents to vote electronically or by fax, at request, and a lot of states have been forced to count votes manually. In New York alone, sixty polling sites have been moved. You can check to see if yours is one of them. New York residents affected by the hurricane can vote at any polling place, as long as they show an affidavit.
In this election, it’ll be harder than ever to have a say in the government of the next four years. But there’s a reason polls were moved and not closed – Americans are determined to cast their ballots for this year’s election, despite adversity. On Tuesday, voters will brave flooded streets, toppled trees, and unemployment lines, and in return for their effort, leave with a say in the government, and an “I voted” sticker.
Photo Credit - AP/Craig Ruttle