New York Absentee Voting Hits Major Snag: Today's Votes of Incompetence

WASHINGTON -- Some New York voters who requested absentee ballots may receive them late because the New York City Board of Elections faces a backlog of applications, according to CBS New York.

The broadcaster reports that 100,000 New Yorkers plan to vote by absentee ballots this year, but the volume of applications may overwhelm the city's ability to get all the ballots mailed out.

"We are doing everything we can possibly with the limited staff we have to have the most efficient Board of Elections," Elections Commissioner J.C. Polanco told CBS. "We requested from the state Legislature, from the City Council to help us with staff." City officials said they hoped to eventually get ballots to all absentee voters who requested them. Voters who haven't received their absentee ballot should call election officials.

City public advocate Bill de Blasio, a potential 2013 Democratic mayoral candidate, wrote to lawmakers and state election officials urging that state law be changed to require absentee ballots be delivered by the Friday before Election Day, according to the Daily News.

Here are other election snafu news items that caught the eye of the Huffington Post:

-- The ability of U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan who requested absentee ballots to vote may be affected by the crash of a transport plane earlier this month. According to the Associated Press, a senior staffer at the Federal Voting Assistance Program told election officials last week that the Oct. 19 crash at Shindad Air Base in Afghanistan led to 4,700 pounds of mail being destroyed. Officials said it was unclear if any ballots were destroyed, but urged election officials to resend ballots to troops who may request new ones.

-- In Hernando County, Fla., U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent (R) warned that some voters who requested absentee ballots haven't gotten them, reports Hernando Today. He said his office has received "an alarming number of calls" from residents who say they should have gotten their ballots by now. Local elections official Elizabeth Townsend said that all the absentee ballots were sent out on time, but there may Postal Service delivery issues. "My concern right now, along with everybody else, is seeing that every eligible person who wants to vote is counted," Nugent told the newspaper. "That can't happen if they don't get a ballot. This is a serious issue that will affect Republicans, Democrats, and independents all the same."

-- Criminal investigators in Iowa are checking reports of unauthorized paperwork to request absentee ballots, according to the Des Moines Register. The paper reports: "Muscatine resident Craig White says a Democratic campaign worker somehow gave his 75-year-old mother the impression that it was OK for her to sign his name on an absentee ballot request form when he wasn't home. It's a felony under Iowa’s voting laws to falsify a signature." A county attorney said the the state Division of Criminal Investigation is looking into cases. No charges have been filed.

-- Hurricane Sandy may affect the election on Nov. 6, but it's unclear whether it would help Republicans or Democrats. It could make President Barack Obama look more presidential if the federal government responds well. But on the flip side, one academic study reports: "Individuals low in socioeconomic status simply find it more difficult to bear the costs of voting, which includes both decision costs and the direct costs of registering and going to the polls." Those low-income voters tend to lean Democratic.

And power outages may affect Election Day next week. As Al Roker told David Gregory on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday: "As the system moves on shore, it's going to be a long-term effect. It's going to last for about 72 hours. And so we're talking about people who could be without power for at least 10 days. That, as you know, will take it right into Election Day. So what will people do if they can't get to the voting booth, or the voting booths don't have power?" BradBlog.com reports that states that rely heavily on electronic touch-screen voting include North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

Daniel Lippman can be followed on Twitter @dlippman



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