James West is the editor and producer of The Climate Desk, a collaboration among The Atlantic, the Center for Investigative Reporting, Grist, Mother Jones, Slate, Wired, and PBS. He is the author of Beijing Blur.
"We really don't care about the election right now, it's the furthest thing from our minds," one resident says. Still, officials are scrambling to keep the polls open Tuesday.
Hurricane Sandy took away a lot of things: power, homes, even lives. For residents of Moonachie, New Jersey, a small town just across the Hudson River from New York City, the storm took a stab at their basic right to vote. After severe flooding here, much of the town remains without power, which led local election officials to decide over the weekend to close all the polling places and re-direct residents to consolidated locations nearby.
It's the same story all across the state: Some 300 polling places shut down or moved, according to the governor's office, creating a logistical nightmare for election planners and a headache for voters (for what's it's worth, Governor Chris Christie announced plans to allow votes to be emailed or faxed in).
And while New Jersey, a solidly blue state, has never seen less than 70 percent turnout for a presidential election, residents here say until the lights come back on, casting a vote is the furthest thing from their minds.