Frankenstorm hits on election day--what happens?

The title says it all, basically.

Suppose the upcoming storm gathers in strength for a few more days.
And instead of affecting “only” 60 million people, it is even worse.
This could, I think, make it one of the worst natural disasters in American history.

And suppose it hits the day before election day, when all the voting machines, paper ballots, etc are supposed to be taken by trucks to the thousands of precincts which are suddenly inaccessible due to flooding , or even if they can be physically reached, they have no electricity, no telephones, etc. And in some of those areas the citizens have evacuated voluntarily due to recommendations from the authorities; but in some of those areas the citizens have been evacuated involuntarily, under orders from the police, with the governor having called out the national guard.

In short—it’s a hugely unfair election, with one quarter of the voters unable to exercise their right to vote, most of them due to what is legally known as an “act of God”, but some of them because the national guard has blocked access to their place of residence.
Is there any provision under current law for dealing with this?
I suppose the President could declare a national state of emergency and then declare martial law, without even asking Congress . Are there any other options?

Emergencies are local. If overwhelmed, the respective governors asks for a declaration of support from the president. The president can then designate/delegate federal agencies to provide assistance to local authorities. The president cannot declare martial law legally.

Most importantly, there is no “national” election. All elections are state controlled. It would be up to the respective states how they will address their state-based elections, including those elections for federal office.

We re-ran the (primary) election that was being held on 9/11 in NYS. I assume something similar would be done. (Though I also have no doubt that there would be attempts by various parties to NOT reschedule this year’s elections, so that the outcome would be more favorable to one candidate or the other.)

Big question: What would the media do? They generally have a no-tell policy on election results now, waiting until every state’s polls have closed (well, at least the lower 48…). Would they honor that silence for a period of days or even weeks? I can see strategic “leaks” coming out…

If I’m not mistaken, the Constitution only requires a uniform day for the electors’ votes to be counted. States could make individual decisions as to whether to postpone or extend their election days.

Since when? They certainly didn’t have that policy in 2008. Anyways, the media isn’t the only source for election results in the 21st century. I think just about every state posts results online.

If Obama was smart, he’s make a high-profile, televised appeal to Romney to stop campaigning, because the welfare of the Nation was at stake.

When Romney didn’t stop, attack dogs step up to flog the stuffings out or Mittens, while Barry looks Presidential as Hell.

McCain tried that in '08 when the economy melted down. Obama’s response was that a president needs to be able to do more than one thing at a time and McCain ended up looking kind of silly for suggesting it.

I wouldn’t be surprised if NY state and other seaboard states postpone their elections a week.

All depends on how devastating Hurricane Sandy is. It may take a couple weeks to get power back on, roads cleared etc.

Do they want people on the roads driving to vote with downed trees and power lines? Maybe some traffic lights out? That would be crazy dangerous.

Really? I was watching the ABC national broadcast in 2008, and they wouldn’t say zip about the exit polls/early returns until 8pm, when polls closed at most places on the West Coast. I remember because the entire neighborhood exploded with cheers and fireworks seconds after that.

It is up to the state legislatures to determine the details of the election. Presumably each state legislature could delay election day unless Congress passed a federal law to supersede.

Doubt it. The storm itself will just a a bunch of rain in upstate NY and the like by about midday tomorrow (a week before Election Day), and most of the power outages should be taken care of by Wednesday evening (still six days before election day).

But the OP’s question is a good one…what if a storm even bigger than Sandy hit only a day or two before Election Day, or on the day itself? And, better informed Dopers than me are already coming up with some good and interesting answers.

I’ll bet the Feds can come up with a rationale to get involved even if governors don’t ask them too.
I’m thinking of Justice Department folks who are dispatched wherever they think there might be some “unfairness”.

Here’s an article about how the campaigns reacted to the storm.

ABC was talking about results hours before that. This crappy video is from ABC at 4:30 Pacific. ABC had already called a couple of states and there are vote totals at the bottom.

There are various news articles showing up already, speculating about what could happen to the elections. Here’s one for example:

Google hurricane sandy delay election to find more.

Some details from various article I’ve seen, that I happen to remember:
[li] The President cannot decree that the elections are delayed. Congress sets the date of the election (it’s not hard-coded into the Constitution). Congress could pass emergency legislation postponing the election.[/li][li] Good luck with that – Politically, logistically, and possibly legally.[/li][li] If elections postponed, would probably have to be done uniformly nationwide. Major PITA if they do that, and major PITA if they have elections on different days in different states.[/li][li] Possible major difficulties holding as scheduled in affected areas: Loss of power where electronic voting machines used (since there is such widespread power losses, could be over a week before it’s all fixed). Roads/bridges/buses/subways/etc. shut down, large numbers of people can’t get to polls. Polling places shut down due to floods, damage. If moved, lots of people might not find the new places, or can’t be arsed to go looking for them – even if just a block away. People with lost houses, lost cars, sleeping in Red Cross shelters or school gyms, trying to get lives back together: Voting may not be their top priority.[/li][li] Moving election to another day is major logistical/financial hardship for cash-strapped states.[/li][li] Federal law sets date of federal elections. But individual state laws set dates for state elections. Next week’s ballots consist of federal and state elections rolled into one ballot. If Congress moves date for federal elections, the state legislatures will have to bust ass to move their state elections likewise – otherwise, the state elections must proceed as scheduled even though the federal election is postponed. How much of a clusterfuck is THAT going to be?[/li][/ul]

The media’s projections on election night are based on exit polls, not results (which trickle in over the course of election night precinct-by-precinct).

I think the policy since the 2000 fiasco is to not project victory in a state until all the polls have closed in that state (the early projections in Florida either came close to changing the outcome or they did change the outcome, depending on your leanings). But there’s no rule or practice about keeping projections a secret until all US polls are closed. Otherwise election coverage couldn’t begin until 3 am or so Eastern, or whenever they close in Hawaii. Even ignoring AK and HI will take it out of east coast prime time. Well informed late voters in the western time zones are always going to have a sense of who’s ahead when they vote (or know the winner in a landslide), and I don’t see any way around that.

Maybe if we just think of the storm victims in the OP as a seventh time zone, it’s not so bad. But the barrage of campaign ads and visits there in the intervening days would be an unprecedented addition of insult to injury.

I brought up this scenario months ago, and the (mostly Leftist) trolls took much time to mock any suggestion that anything could happen, while providing little brain power to think up a real answer. I didn’t call it as a hurricane, but I did suggest it could be a natural disaster. Nothing supernatural, but I predict there will be some states (the very heavily Dem ones) who will refuse to hold their elections the scheduled day, then sue on the basis of lack of equal protection (since their state’s votes wouldn’t count once the electoral process determined the winner without them). Not surprisingly, I expect 1 of these to be NY (with maybe 1 or 2 others to do so out of solidarity).
The original thread. Feel free to comment intelligently, trolls just move out of your parents’ basement & get a life.

That depends on how close it is. They might be able to project it right away based on exit polls, but they might have to wait until a few votes come in.

Your original quesiton was quite politically phrased. The premise was based on Obama cancelling the election illegally (and definitely implied maliciously) you also mentioned that “Obamacare” was unconstitutional which it was found not to be. Are you surprised you got political replies?

Yes, I was wrong in thinking that a president would overtly cancel elections - turns out the states handles theirs individually. And? What about the rest of the thesis? The constitutionality of Obamacare has not been settled, btw - the Supreme Court made the infamous Dred Scott case as well as others that have been corrected. In reality, the government can NOT force any1 to buy anything. But that’s a red herring.
How about commenting on the original thesis - there appears to be no precedent, so what will the course of action be if some states refuse to hold elections on Tuesday with Sandy as the excuse?