New Jersey residents whose communities were hard-hit by this week's storm are being given extraordinary options to vote in Tuesday's election: They can drop by their county clerk's office all weekend to vote in-person and they can text a special number to find out if and where their usual polling location has been moved.
Gov. Chris Christie said Friday that his administration is making sure residents have opportunities to vote, even if their polling station is without power or has been washed away.
"We need to make sure we give everybody a transparent, accessible, open voting process on Tuesday,'' Christie said after greeting FEMA staffers at a newly opened storm center in Ocean County. "We have a national election, and we have to make sure every New Jerseyan who is qualified to register and vote has the opportunity to vote, and the system that the lieutenant governor put together, I believe, will make it easy for you to vote.''
Christie said utility crews are working overtime to restore power to voting locations. But some residents will find National Guard trucks at their polling station, which will serve as makeshift voting booths. Residents will vote there on paper ballots -- "old school,'' as Christie put it.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who oversees elections, urged storm-ravaged residents to visit their county clerk's office between now and Election Day to cast their ballot in person. The clerks' offices will be staffed during business hours Saturday and Sunday accommodate storm victims.
Guadagno says she expects few polling places to have to be moved. While she didn't have the complete list handy Friday, she said 10 voting locations in Monmouth County would be without power on Election Day.
She said residents can text 877877 or log onto www.elections.nj.gov to find out where they can vote on Tuesday.
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In Newark, Essex County Clerk Chris Durkin said most of the county's 306 polling locations have power.
"What we're doing in locations that are unsafe or do not have power, we are making a plan currently to move those polling stations into existing polling locations,'' he said. "We don't want to displace any voters, but we need to be concerned with the safety and the power of these polling locations.''
He said no Newark residents would have to leave their ward to vote.
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He and Mayor Cory Booker are also urging residents to take advantage of early voting at the county clerk's office.
Associated Press reporter Katie Zezima contributed reporting from Newark.