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FEMA preparing for Hurricane Sandy to disrupt elections

Published: October 30, 2012
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Source: Politico

Fix Everything My Ass float Baton Rouge

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing for Hurricane Sandy to disrupt next week's elections, agency Administrator Craig Fugate said Monday afternoon.

"We are anticipating that, based on the storm, there could be impacts that would linger into next week and have impacts on the federal election," Fugate said on a conference call with reporters.

But any potential tinkering with Election Day would bring a bevy of legal issues.

"Our chief counsel's been working on making sure that we have the proper guidance," he added. "We're going through the regulatory policy and making sure all that's in place and we can support it."

Fugate did not address whether the election could be delayed -- a question that federal officials said last week is up for states to decide.

"Whether the election can be postponed or not is a legal black hole," said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. "There's very little precedent for such an act."

Federal law requires presidential elections to be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but it also provides that if a state "has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct."

In case of emergencies that threaten to disrupt voting, the federal Election Assistance Commission advises state election officials to "review existing State law to determine if the Governor has the power to cancel an election or designate alternative methods for distribution of ballots."

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