With close to two million people in New Jersey without power in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, and an national election due next week, it has been determined that the best way forward is to hand over the reigns to the Department of Defense.
Many polling stations will have no power and therefore no means of conducting their duties on election day. The deadline for processing mail in ballots has been extended until Friday, however many will still have no means of voting.
The AP reports that in light of this, military trucks are to be parked in the vicinity of polling stations and will be authorized to issue and accept paper ballots
Republican Secretary of State and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said voters will find “a DOD truck with a well-situated National Guardsman and a big sign saying, ‘Vote Here.’”
“There’s no reason not to vote, there’s no reason not to vote today, there’s certainly no reason not to vote on Tuesday, five days from today,” Guadagno said.
Clearly there are concerns with the such plans. Aside from the fact that having armed soldiers in uniform overseeing a democratic voting process is somewhat troubling, the fact that the location of polling stations will be mobile and not announced until the last minute opens up an increased possibility of fraud.
Although Obama was projected to comfortably take New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie told reporters that an “old school” voting method could mean “some races might be more suspenseful.”
CNN reports that many polling stations in Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania are also struggling to prepare for the election. In Nassau County, ninety percent of the county’s polling stations are currently without power, those that do are running on generators, and many have been damaged by flooding.
Officials also report that they are currently uncertain what to do with electronic voting machines.
“Our biggest problem at this point is getting the machines to the polling places. Nobody’s there to accept the machines,” said Dennis Kobitz, president of the New Jersey Association of Election Officials, noting that many of the them are locked and without power.
“Do I leave [the polling machines at the polling stations]?” Kobitz asked, frustrated with the unknown. “How do I take a chance that the schools will have power?”
“I can’t just deliver 433 machines – there’s no way to do that in one day,” he said.
Leaving such voting machines unattended or running them on generators is a recipe for disaster, especially considering the documented vulnerabilities of the machines and previous widespread occurrences of voting machine fraud.
Reports have already begun circulating in six different states that the machines are flipping votes, or are not calibrated correctly.
Numerous errors with electronic voting machines have become apparent over the last two weeks.
Early voters in Marion County who attempted to vote for Mitt Romney saw the electronic touch screen replace their choice with Barack Obama instead. Joan Stevens had to input her selection three times before it displayed correctly.
“You want to vote for who you want to vote for, and when you can’t it’s irritating,” Stevens told the Marion Star.
Voters in Guilford County, North Carolina experienced the same problem. Every time a vote for Romney was entered, the machine flipped it and counted it as a vote for Obama.