States Scramble to Help Displaced Residents Vote

People line up to vote in the presidential election.

People line up to vote in the presidential election.

Associated Press + More

In New York City, authorities planned to run shuttle buses every 15 minutes Tuesday in storm-slammed areas to bring voters to the polls.

Elections Commissioner J.C. Polanco said the buses would service parts of Staten Island, the Rockaways and Breezy Point in Queens, and the Coney Island section of Brooklyn.

"An election on a normal day in New York is difficult as it is. Think of how difficult it is after a hurricane," Polanco said.

Just 60 of the city's 1350 polling sites were unusable and residents who vote in those places would be directed elsewhere, Polanco said. He said if a voter relocated to another polling site didn't show up on the list of people eligible to vote, he or she would be given a provisional ballot.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged city residents to check the Board of Elections website to find out about polling changes.

"Vote. It is our most precious right. It is the one that guarantees all our other rights as Americans. It is the essence of being a citizen," Bloomberg said.

In a city of 4.6 million voters, bumps were inevitable.

In Brooklyn, workers were still pumping water out of Middle School 211, which was supposed to serve as a polling place. The neighborhood's new polling site, Canarsie High School, is a few blocks away, but there were no signs posted at either school alerting voters to the change.

Staten Island resident Paul Hoppe said he probably wouldn't vote. His home, a block from the beach, was uninhabitable, his family was displaced and their possessions were ruined.

"We've got too many concerns that go beyond the national scene," Hoppe said.

Five counties in West Virginia were moving or combining 14 precincts into a total of 10 temporary locations. Lewis, Randolph and Tucker counties are each relocating one precinct. Upshur County is moving four while Preston is relocating seven.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said officials will post notices on the closed precincts, and are spreading details through the media and on her office's website. West Virginia's elections chief, Tennant warned voters not to believe phone calls offering new precinct locations.

"Those are false calls," Tennant said, citing complaints alleging such ploys during prior elections. "Call your county clerk to double-check, or the secretary of state's office."

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Fouhy reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Geoff Mulvihill in New Jersey and Karen Matthews, Michael Hill, Jennifer Peltz and Bebeto Matthews in New York, and Lawrence Messina in Charleston, W.Va., contributed to this report.

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