Could Sandy postpone the presidential election? - FOX 32 News Chicago

Could Sandy postpone the presidential election?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

No U.S. Presidential election has ever been postponed, but the director of FEMA revealed Tuesday that, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the Obama Administration is researching the possibility.

They are worried that some devastated areas will still have little or no electricity by Election Day, next Tuesday.

Experts told FOX Chicago News they think it would take an act of Congress to delay Presidential voting anywhere in the U.S. In a conference call with utility executives, President Obama offered federal help restoring power.

Without electricity, many voting and vote-counting systems simply won't work. Modern Democracy uses machines that require electricity to record individual votes and then high-speed computer internet connections transmit total vote counts to central election officials who announce them to the world.

But, there may not be power even in parts of New York City for next Tuesday's scheduled election. Rural areas may face even longer delays. Election officials across the Northeast are scrambling; discussing whether it's possible to consolidate polling places and use portable generators or have some vote by hand, the old-fashioned way. What only a few are discussing publicly is any delay in the Presidential Election. Here's why.

"I think it would probably take an Act of Congress to change that and to allow states to have the flexibility to do," says Professor Wayne Steger of DePaul University. "The question is: would they give individual states the flexibility to change their date and delay it for a week of even two weeks? Very unlikely. I think that's right."

Wayne Steger chairs DePaul University's Political Science department. He said that since most of the states hit by Hurricane Sandy are heavily Democratic, partisan considerations would likely block any agreement to let them delay voting for President.

"I think the big impact of the hurricane is on voter turnout. I think we're going to see substantially lower voting in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, for sure," says Steger in response to the impact of the hurricane if the election isn't postponed.

Pennsylvania is the only one of those states that the Mitt Romney campaign claims might be competitive. The President is still likely to win them all. But DePaul's Professor Steger notes that if turnout does drop in Democratic strongholds, it increases the chances of Romney winning the popular vote nationwide.

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