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Cuomo: Displaced voters can cast 'provisional' ballots Tuesday

Voters displaced by superstorm Sandy can cast provisional ballots at polling stations outside their regular district Tuesday, an change ordered by the governor on Election Day's eve.

Under the order signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, voters can sign affidavits that they are legally registered and vote wherever they can reach an open polling site.

Voters could participate in the presidential and U.S. Senate contests, but might not be able to vote in state Senate and Assembly elections if they are physically casting a vote outside their home district. For example, a Nassau County resident who has moved to Suffolk County could vote for president but not in the local Senate and Assembly contests.

The governor called it a tradeoff.

“We want every one to vote. Just because you are displaced doesn’t mean you just be disenfranchised,” Cuomo said. “But in the local races, if you vote in a different Assembly district, a different Senate district, your vote will not count in that district. That is the downside to the system.”

The provisional-voting proposal was backed by some good-government groups. But some critics said it place a huge burden on local election board to check the validity of votes and that it would lower participation in "down ballot" races such as Congress and  State Legislature.

  "It's a well-intentioned move but it adds confusion to an already chaotic situation," said Dick Dadey of Citizens Union, a watchdog group. He said the state should be "doing all it can" to help residents vote in their home districts.

Earlier, New Jersey said it would allow displaced voters to cast provisional ballots in polling stations outside of their regularly assigned site.

New Jersey also has said it will permit voting via e-mail. But New York has dismissed the of changing state law to allow it.

“There are just too many security risks to the validity of the election,” said Doug Kellner, co-chairman of the New York State Board of Elections.

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