Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Provisional Ballots Still Being Counted

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Provisional Ballots Still Being Counted

Article excerpt

State election officials do not have answers to key questions about how the emergency voting procedures brought on by superstorm Sandy worked, including some last-minute changes that caused chaos as thousands of voters sought email and fax ballots before polls closed Tuesday.

The state won't know until at least next week how many voters requested email or fax ballots, according to Ernest Landante, spokesman for Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the state's top election official. Nor does it know how many voters took advantage of state directives that allowed them to cast provisional ballots at any polling place in the state or expanded hours for early in-person absentee voting at government offices in the days running up to the election.

Guadagno, faced with widespread power outages and voters forced out of their homes by the superstorm, expanded email and fax voting to displaced residents and first responders on Saturday.

The option is usually available only to a small number of overseas voters and military personnel. But this time county election offices were overwhelmed with thousands of requests that flooded email inboxes and stressed fax lines as voters struggled to fax or email their requests for the ballots in by the 5 p.m. Election Day deadline.

"We think we burned out our fax machine," said Passaic County Clerk Kristin M. Corrado.

On Wednesday, she and other county clerks turned their attention to counting ballots and processing ballot requests in time to meet new state deadlines. Her office received more than a thousand and was done processing at least half of them by Wednesday afternoon.

Governor Christie said Wednesday that reports of problems were "scattered and anecdotal," adding that he was "satisfied" with the state's handling of the elections given the circumstances.

Faced with the prospects that county clerks wouldn't be able to get ballots to voters by the time the polls closed, Guadagno extended several election deadlines Tuesday afternoon. …

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