[This article was cross-posted by Salon...]
"History is being written as an extreme weather event continues to unfold, one which will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States," the Weather Channel's Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro is warning. "This is an extraordinary situation, and I am not prone to hyperbole."
The National Weather Service has been telling us over the past several days that the serious impact of the super storm which is Hurricane Sandy is not to be underestimated. But there is another concern that has been keeping me awake over the past week or so.
NBC's Al Roker spelled out that concern briefly on Sunday's Meet the Press, explaining what I've been worrying about since it became clear that the storm could have serious ramifications on Election Day.
I'm not talking about the political ramifications about its effect on planned campaign events between now and Election Day, on Early Voting turnout, or even how it's handled by President Obama and FEMA, etc. I'm talking about the serious question of whether voters will be able to vote on Election Day at all, particularly in states which force voters to use electronic voting systems at the precincts.
"We expect massive power outages throughout the area," Roker told NBC's David Gregory (before Gregory hurried to ignore the comment entirely.) "As the system moves on shore it's going to be a long term effect. It's going to last for about 72 hours. And so we're talking about people who could be without power for at least 10 days. That, as you know, will take it right into Election Day. So what will people do if they can't get to the voting booth, or the voting booths don't have power?"
Good question, Al. And one we've warned about here for a number of years.
There are about a half a dozen states (listed below) directly in harm's way where voters are forced to use 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems on Election Day. In those locations, unless they have enough emergency paper ballots printed up to accommodate the entire electorate at precincts where power remains disrupted on Election Day, there could be very serious and unprecedented problems...