Reporting Mike Parker
CHICAGO (CBS) – The presidential election is just one week away, but with so much damage and destruction, and so many Americans without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, can the election go on as planned?
CBS 2’s Mike Parker spoke to an election expert on the possible impact the storm could have on voters’ ability to get to the polls on the East Coast on Election Day.
Sandy left heavy damage up and down the East Coast. Approximately 7.5 million people have been left without power, almost 1 million people have been evacuated from their homes, about 18,000 people are staying in shelters, and 80 to 100 homes in Queens were destroyed by a massive fire.
With all of that, how can most areas along the East Coast hope to hold a presidential election in less than a week?
Oak Park resident Sharon Hamilton said, “All of the East Coast is under siege, underwater. They should postpone the election.”
Asked if it would be a good idea to postpone the election because of the damage from Sandy, Kenosha, Wisc., resident David Glaub said, “If it helps them to get out and vote, then I would be all for it.”
The candidates themselves have been preoccupied with the disaster. President Barack Obama visited Red Cross headquarters on Tuesday, while Mitt Romney helped collect relief supplies in Ohio.
Obama said, “My message to the federal government: no bureaucracy, no red tape; get resources where they’re needed as fast as possible.”
For his part, Romney thanked donors who have given food and other supplies to send to those directly affected by the storm.
“Your generosity this morning touches my heart,” Romney told volunteers in Ohio.
With voting made difficult for so many – would the government, or should the government postpone the voting scheduled for next Tuesday.
A Chicago area attorney and elections expert said that would go against history.
Election law attorney Richard Means said, “Since 1845, the United States – every state – has voted for president on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.”
Means said even with the Civil War underway in 1864, the presidential election was still held as planned.
If there’s no power at some polling places on the East Coast, Means said local and federal officials can bring in generators.
“Unless something just completely out of the blue, some terrible disaster might happen, there doesn’t appear to be any likelihood that this election is going to be postponed,” he said.
Also, there is no federal law which would allow a national election to be postponed. It appeared quite certain Tuesday night that states in the storm zone where early voting was still taking place would probably stop or curtail much of the early voting, if not all of it to avoid any problems due to the storm.