How Sandy Affects Early Voting in Swing States
(NEW YORK) -- There are five battleground states in Sandy’s path including Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.
Pennsylvania and New Hampshire do not offer in-person early voting, so it’s likely that the storm won’t have much of an impact on voting in either of those states, but in Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina early voting is increasingly popular. Below is a look at how the storm has impacted early voting in these battlegrounds.
Virginia is the state where Sandy is having a strong impact on early voting, looking at the size of the voting population in the affected areas. In Virginia, 21 voter offices were closed Monday, according to a list provided by the State Board of Elections. The affected counties encompass several large metropolitan areas in the northern portion of the state, including both Democrat and Republican friendly areas.
For the Democrats, the normally Dem friendly counties of Arlington and Fairfax, as well as the city of Alexandria closed their offices today. For Republicans, GOP-leaning Loudoun County was also closed.
As of now only one county, Accomack County, has announced that the voter office is going to be closed Tuesday as well. Accomack is located on the Eastern Shore and makes up part of the Delmarva Peninsula. McCain narrowly carried this county in 2008 with 50.1 percent to Obama’s 48.7 percent, but there were less than 20,000 votes cast there in total.
More closings could be announced as the storm continues to smash into the East Coast.
It appears as though Sandy hasn’t affected early voting in Ohio in any noticeable way. The Secretary of State’s office tells ABC News that they haven’t received any reports of issues from any of the 88 counties in the state. Every county in Ohio is required to file emergency plans with the Secretary of State’s office as part of their elections proceedings.
Vote-by-mail appears to be a significantly more popular means of casting an early vote in Ohio. As of the most recent report from the Secretary of State’s office, out of the 800,000 plus votes that have come in so far in Ohio, a little more than 600,000 have come from mail-in absentees, while less than 200,000 have come from in-person voting.
The State Board of Elections reports that over the weekend the early voting sites in Dare County, which includes the Outer Banks, and Ocracoke Island, which is located in Hyde County, closed on Saturday. Early voting sites in Pamlico County, located along the Atlantic in the middle portion of the state, closed on Sunday. The SBE reports on their website that Dare County early voting sites are closed “until tomorrow” and there is no word yet about when they will reopen. McCain carried Dare and Pamlico counties in 2008, while Obama narrowly carried Hyde County.
Sandy is not expected to affect the big vote centers of Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte and their surrounding counties where forecasts call for a few showers, cloud cover, and wind Monday and Tuesday.
ABC News rates Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire as toss-ups. North Carolina is rated as leaning Republican while Pennsylvania is rated as leaning Democrat.
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