Sandy Emergency Responders Face Voting Dilemma
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – They’re helping assist with people affected by superstorm Sandy, but will it cost them their vote? One worker heading to West Virginia says yes.
The worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, is on his way to help restore power to thousands. CBS News reports more than 8.2 million households were without power in 17 states.
The worker says he was given short notice Tuesday evening that he would be leaving early the next day. His elections office was closed, and it wouldn’t open until after he left.
“This will be the first presidential election I won’t be able to cast my vote,” the worker said.
He tried getting his wife, Joni, to pick up an absentee ballot, but she was told she couldn’t do that for him.
“It was kind of dilemma at the government center, because they hadn’t thought about that,” Joni said. “It’s now a problem for all emergency workers that were sent out there and didn’t vote before they left.”
The worker says when it comes to lineman there’s more than 15,000 heading east to help restore power.
The American Red Cross says they also have more than 2,300 disaster workers from all over the country helping.
“I think this may have an impact on [the election]” the worker said.
Rachel Smith is the Hennepin County elections manager. She says the options for emergency workers that left without voting are limited.
“I think their best option is to go online and get an absentee ballot,” Smith said. “It does need to be filled out by the voter and signed.”
Smith says they should then fax it to their elections office, pay for it to be mailed to the east by FedEx or UPS. Once the absentee ballot is filled out it needs to be mailed to the elections office before the polls close on Tuesday.
For the anonymous worker, however, he’s not sure where he’ll be as he helps with storm clean up.
“We are obligated to follow our state elections laws and procedures, but we certainly will do whatever we can to make this happen for them,” Smith said.