Could Sandy Push Back Election Day?

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a declaration stating that "The current State of Emergency will interfere with the early voting that is scheduled to take place by law from Saturday, October 27, 2012 through Thursday, November 1, 2012."

Though early voting was scrubbed Monday and Tuesday, O'Malley said it would resume Wednesday and that voting hours would be expanded on Friday, according to Politico.

A note posted on the D.C. Board of Elections website announced that "early voting sites will remain closed on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 due to the continuing effects of Hurricane Sandy."

Virginia closed some local voter registration offices in Northern Virginia and the D.C. area, but most remained open.

Early voting sites were also shuttered in parts of North Carolina.

And in an election that has both incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney scrambling for the lead, every vote, particularly those in swing states, matters. That holds very true with some states, such as Pennsylvania and Minnesota, back in play. ABC News moved both from 'safe' to 'lean' Obama this week.

Both candidates have urged their supporters to cast ballots ahead of Election Day, but many groups that have traditionally encouraged early voting -- such as African-American churches that organize trips to the polls on the weekend prior to the election -- swing toward Obama. And as the Economist noted, "a certain amount of bad weather on election day helps conservatives in every democracy. In crude terms, car-driving conservative retirees still turn out in driving rain, when bus-taking lower-income workers just back from a night shift are more likely to give rain-soaked polls a miss."

That could spell bad news for the Obama campaign, but Romney supporters in Sandy's path may actually face greater challenges in terms of casting ballots. While Democrats tend to live in dense, urban areas that often see the first cleanup efforts, many Republicans live in more rural areas where efforts to clear roads and restore power could take longer.

The Economist also points out that the most enthusiastic supporters of each campaign are the ones who can't wait to cast ballots and often do so as soon as early voting opens. For most places that happened several days before Sandy struck. It's this week "when less zealous supporters were supposed to be finding a moment to cast a ballot."

It's also worth noting that each state handles its own election practices, so while Maryland for example, has extended early voting to Friday to make up for lost time early this week, other states may not.

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