The Young Politica: How to Vote During Hurricane

We Lower-Manhattanites are a scrappy bunch of people. We are starving artists, college students, writers, and Wall Street bankers. This past week, after Hurricane Sandy hit, all of lower Manhattan was out of power for days.

I am writing this after being evacuated from my dorm and living out of NYU’s Kimmel Center for days—a building that offered food, shelter, and power to students. For those not seeking refuge outside of their ‘South of Power’ apartments, I’ve heard stories of raw ramen for dinner and pilgrimages north for cell phone service. Luckily, power resumed for much of my neighborhood recently, so I have a bed to sleep in again.

Rather than thinking about where I would be relocated after the storm on Monday, my concerns shifted to how Sandy would affect the upcoming election. Perhaps my priorities need adjusting.

First on my list of concerns: my vote. Along with local businesses and city parks, the postal service was out of operation in my area for a few days. It wasn’t good news for an absentee voter, like myself.  However, Uptown mail services were functioning as usual. That’s where I headed to get my ballot sent. As of Wednesday, USPS is up and running.

Another slew of worries deals with voter turnout. The eastern seaboard states affected by Sandy were mostly blue states. Many of the people who will not make it to the polls because of the storm will be similar to those who are also shut out of the system that attempts to instill Voter ID Laws—citizens who need transportation to get to their voting site like the poor and the elderly; and mail-in voters who cannot make it to the polls like those with illness. Even voters who can drive to their polling sites may not be able to get there because of the gasoline shortage.

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Some experts are even reasoning that the election might be swayed by way of the president’s approval rating post-Sandy. Even though the situation down here was quite the opposite of the negative national event that was Katrina, a natural disaster like Sandy during any administration’s reign can be a game changer.

No matter who wins, I just hope it’s a fair fight; not one skewed by a tragic event such as this. If we can survive without power for almost a week, we can walk to polling stations to cast our ballot. I hiked up 45 blocks to get my ballot sent, for Pete’s sake. No matter where you are, please vote.

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