Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Will Sandy Cause Election Day Chaos?

I was appalled to learn of the damage inflicted at this point (early morning Eastern time, Oct. 30) on a large section of America  by Hurricane Sandy and the "frankenstorm" into which it has morphed.  At this writing the worst may be yet to come in some areas either from the storm itself or the aftermath. This weather front is a stark reminder of the raw power of nature and that even the most modern and advanced architectural and technological achievements of man are no match for this awesome force. (I shudder to think what would happen if such an overwhelming natural event were ever to strike here in Metro-Manila or some other other third world city.)

And what a time for this disaster to hit the U.S—one week before the 2012 presidential election.  How this storm will affect the outcome, not to mention the process itself, is a wild card. At this time President Obama faces a set of  circumstances similar to those experienced by then President Bush during and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Bush's incompetence in handling the aftermath of that devastating storm was the beginning of the end of his popularity.  But unlike Obama, Bush was not up for re-election.

So the election, as close as it is in imminence and in the race itself could well be decided on Obama's  and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) ) restoring some degree of order and normalcy in the wake of Sandy. But even if he handles it successfully to the extent that any degree of recovery can be achieved in such as short time before next Tuesday, it wouldn't be surprising if the Republicans find a way to play politics and try to stymie Obama's efforts (just as they were involved in voter suppression attempts  in Ohio before Sandy).  At this point it should be noted that Mitt Romney is opposed to federal aid in such disasters and if elected would dismantle the FEMA, leaving the individual states to fend for themselves.

But no matter how well or poorly the government assists people  in areas hard hit by the storm in digging out of the debris and in helping them put their lives back together, they may be too distracted to vote and / or the polling places and facilities may have been too damaged to be of service. For example, how will voters be able to cast their ballots on electronic voting machines if the power is still out in  as may be the case in some locales?  These are just a few possible scenarios that may materialize on election day.

So the period between now and Nov. 6 as well as that date itself will be extremely critical.  Thanks to Sandy It may well result in one  of the most contested and contentious elections on all levels—federal, state, and local—in American history. 

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