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Crews from the North Country went south to help those affected by Sandy recover--this house on Long Island is owned by a firefighter. Photo: Jim Stinson, Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department
Crews from the North Country went south to help those affected by Sandy recover--this house on Long Island is owned by a firefighter. Photo: Jim Stinson, Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department

North Country Sandy responders not able to vote

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Voters in America's biggest cities faced long lines on Election Day. But in the North Country, voting went off relatively smoothly.

Perhaps the biggest problem was local emergency responders who were not able to vote because they were helping with hurricane relief efforts in New York City.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

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St. Lawrence County Democratic Elections Commissioner Jennie Bacon says the calls came often from the New York City area: "Phone calls from people who were down there helping. And even the day before the election and there was just no way we could get them a ballot."

Governor Cuomo signed an executive order allowing people who live in the disaster area caused by Hurricane Sandy to vote in other parts of New York. "We’re trying to do the best we can", the governor said, "we want everyone to vote. We want to make it as easy as possible. This executive order I’m signing today is an extraordinary step in the direction."

The order included first responders who live in that region. But State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin says it did not include firefighters and utility workers from the North Country and the rest of upstate New York: "if they did not get their absentee ballot before they left, which may or may not have been possible for them, then it’s very possible, in fact, likely, that they were not able to vote."

Tom Nichols is the Republican Elections Commissioner for St. Lawrence County. He says that’s a tragedy: "Those folks…the state troopers, the police, the firemen, the rescue folks, those folks lost the right to vote. They were disenfranchised."

It’s unclear how many people from the North Country have responded for hurricane Sandy relief efforts and were in the metropolitan area on Election Day.

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