Cuomo Signs Emergency Order Allowing New Yorkers to Vote Anywhere in State

By Jill Colvin on November 5, 2012 3:12pm | Updated on November 5, 2012 8:15pm

NEW YORK CITY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an emergency executive order Monday that will allow voters to cast their ballots at any polling station in the state.

The "extraordinary step” was taken after Hurricane Sandy sent Tuesday’s election into chaos leaving city voters confused about where and how they’re supposed to cast their votes.

“We're trying to do the best we can. We want everyone to vote," Cuomo said at a press conference Monday evening, hours before voters were set to head to the polls.

Under the system, voters who can't make it to their designated polling places can cast special paper affidavit ballots at any polling site.

But there's several differences from regular voting: Emergency affadavit voters will not be allowed to use the electronic scanning machines and their votes won't be counted until after election day.

In addition, since polling sites only stock ballots for their designated districts, voters may not be able to cast votes in their local State Senate, Assembly and other races because the options won't appear on their ballots. If voters check off candidates who wouldn't have appeared on their normal ballot, those won't be counted. Officials will have to sort through the confusion before the votes can be tallied.

“Your vote will count for those races where your vote is eligible... That is the downside to the system," Cuomo said.

The decision comes as many communities remain without power, with many struggling for basic necessities, such as food and water, leading public officials and good-government groups to sound the alarm that many could end up disenfranchised.

"They [the city] do not have a plan that will ensure that people will have access to the polls,” said Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was among those who had pushed for the executive order Monday.

IF YOU LIVE IN AN AREA THAT WAS NOT AFFECTED BY SANDY:

For most across the city, voting should be relatively normal. Voting machines were saved from damage and polling sites are expected to open on time, at 6 a.m.  Still, many sites have changed since four years ago, thanks to redistricting. To find out where you should vote, click here.

IF YOU LIVE IN AN AREA AFFECTED BY SANDY AND WANT TO VOTE IN YOUR DISTRICT:

The Board of Elections has combined or relocated 60 polling sites because of flooding and damage, mainly in low-lying areas of Brooklyn and the Rockaways in Queens — but many sites in the Bronx and Brooklyn have been moved, too.

The move will impact approximately 143,000 voters across city, many of whom will now vote at "super sites" along with others from flood-impact zones, or at two outdoor sites, where the Board of Elections is pitching giant tents.

For a full list of the changes, click here, or find your poll site by typing in your address on the board's website. You can also use the board's smartphone applications or call 311.

Voters without Internet service or with spotty cell phone service can also text “NYCVOTES” to 877-877, using a newly-launched system courtesy of NYC Votes! and Mobile Commons.

To help transport voters whose cars have been damaged or who are still without subway service, the MTA will be running free shuttle buses to poll sites in Coney Island, The Rockaway and Staten Island.

The buses will be marked "Voter Shuttle,” and will run evert 15 to 20 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. through badly damaged areas straight to polling sites.

MTA buses are also being dispatched to carry poll workers from the Board of Election's Queens headquarters to polling stations in affected areas.

For a full list of routes, click here.

IF YOU WANT TO VOTE EARLY:

Voters also have until 5 p.m. today to make last-minute applications for absentee ballots, which must be done in person at the Board of Election's borough offices.

You can go now to those offices if you are worried about access Tuesday:

Richmond County (Staten Island) Emergency Absentee Ballot Pickup:
1 Edgewater Plaza, 4th Floor, Staten Island. Phone number: (718) 876‐0079.
Office Hours: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Manhattan Emergency Absentee Ballot Pickup:
450 West 33rd St., 10th Floor. Phone number: (212) 465‐0503.
Office Hours: Sunday 9:00 a.m. ‐ 8:00 p.m., Monday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Bronx County Emergency Absentee Ballot Pickup:
1780 Grand Concourse, 5th Floor, Concourse Level. Phone number: (718) 299‐9017.
Office Hours: Monday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Queens County Emergency Absentee Ballot Pickup:
126‐06 Queens Boulevard, 4th Floor, Kew Gardens. Phone number: (718) 730‐6730.
Office Hours: Monday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Kings County (Brooklyn) Emergency Absentee Ballot Pickup:
345 Adams Street, 4th Floor. Phone number: (718) 797‐8800.
Office Hours: Monday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Click here for full instructions on what to bring.

The deadline for absentee ballots to be received and counted has also been extended from seven days to 13 days after Election Day — but ballots still must be postmarked no later than today, Monday, Nov. 5th.

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