The huge storm that hit the eastern seaboard and is extended way beyond to the west has raised many questions regarding the coming presidential election. I specifically said presidential because that is the one election date that is carved in stone. It is federal law that November 6, 2012 will be the election day regardless of the difficulty in getting to the polls.
There are several options open to the states affected, none of which are very attractive. For instance, remember we the voters do not elect a president. The electoral college does. How is the electoral college constituted? By the states. As is customary throughout our country, Electors are elected as a slate representing a particular candidate. But ... the electors once sent to Washington, D.C. can vote any way they want to.
In the instance where the states are mortally harmed by the storm with flooding, electrical failure, transportation failure, etc. could elect to have their respective state legislatures elect the electoral college representatives, totally bypassing the public. Is it legal? Bet yer ass it is. Of course if a state chose that route there might be a ton of recall elections following that decision.
Can a state postpone the election, say for a week or two? No. The date for presidential elections is set by federal law. Other offices could be voted upon later, but not president. This is going to get interesting, since we have just a few days for these areas to get their act together. Voter turnout will be way down in states that have been flattened, regardless of what alternative voting measures are taken. That would favor the Republicans in the east, since the northeast is pretty solidly democrat orientated, with the possibility of Massachusetts being the exception since Romney was governor of that state, but don't bank on it.
This storm has taken the economy, the foreign policy, and other issues and slammed them into the background. If you remember the hits that Bush took over Katrina, the same could happen to Obama. Even if the president can do very little to affect the situation aside from declaring a state emergency, enabling federal machinery to enter the picture. It doesn't matter. The president is blamed if the milk in your refrigerator sours due to a power outage.
On the other hand, If Obama appears to be firmly in charge, effective and essentially a hero, he will win hands down. It all depends on perception. Former polls are useless at this point. Hurricane Sandy is the new and principal campaign issue. This election year is going to prove very interesting and the results will reverberate for years to come.
If you remember that the last presidential election featuring Bush vs Gore, Florida recounted three times, the liberal leaning state supreme court reordered more and more studies, until the U.S. Supreme court finally felt it necessary to act to avoid a constitutional crisis. Some, if not many democrats still faced with all of those recounts coming out in favor of Bush, still claim the election was stolen. I guess that were upset that Chicago could not vote in Florida. Think of all of those disenfranchised tombstones.
Photo by Taryn Hecker Thonpson.
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