Why we need election contingency plans BEFORE a natural disaster

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Richard Hasen sounds the alarm on the proximity of Hurricane Sandy to the upcoming elections, arguing that “Congress has been gravely irresponsible in not drafting such contingency plans.”

“First, when it comes to the presidential election, we need to clarify the rules dealing with postponing voting in parts of the country struck by disaster, extending polling hours, or allowing broader use of absentee ballots or other means of voting… Perhaps the biggest question is what happens if a state in a disaster zone holds presidential voting in only part of a state on Election Day, but extends the voting past that day. There is a federal law on the books that might (or might not) give the state legislature an opportunity to simply choose its own slate of electors on another date, ignoring the partial voting results.”

“Worst of all for disaster planning, legislatures are passing election reforms on party-line votes… But bipartisanship is exactly what is needed now, just like it is needed to deal with contingency plans if the House of Representatives were hit by a terrorist attack (another issue Congress has irresponsibly ignored aside from holding hearings). Some things are just too big for partisan bickering.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.