Hurricane Sandy has left millions without power on the East Coast, forced hospital evacuations, and shut down public transportation in New York and other cities, but it’s unlikely to delay the Nov. 6 presidential election, according to NBC News Pete Williams.
“Yes, it’s possible, it’s legal, and I can almost guarantee it won’t happen,” he said.
While President Obama declared New York and New Jersey major disaster areas and the federal government closed for a second day in Washington, D.C., the damage from the storm is concentrated along the Eastern seaboard. It wouldn’t make sense to delay the election in other areas of the country, and pushing just the presidential vote back a few days while local and state elections continued could even suppress the vote, Williams said.
Moreover, coordinating the postponement of a national election across the country when elections are handled at the state level would also be difficult, Williams explained.
“It’s the states that run elections in the U.S.,” he said. “Very few states have procedures for delaying elections. Florida does. It has a lot of experience with hurricanes, but it’s one of the few that actually sets out how you do this.”
History shows that the United States is unlikely to postpone a national election as well.
“Not once in U.S. history—not for 9/11, not for disasters, not even for the Civil War—has a presidential election been postponed,” Williams said. “State and local elections get postponed all the time.”
President Obama said on Monday that he is not worried about the impact of the storm on the election but on the safety of Americans.