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Virginia registrar offices, polling places to be given 'high priority' in cases of power outage

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Battleground Virginia is one of the states right in the anticipated path of Hurricane Sandy, and the State Board of Elections said Saturday that the state’s general registrar offices and more than 2,500 polling places will be given a “high priority” for power restoration, if it’s required, to head off disruption to the election process.

The board is encouraging general registrars to keep offices open and continue the in-person voting process unless conditions become unsafe for general registrars, employees or voters.

“The State Board of Elections is closely monitoring Hurricane Sandy and working to minimize any potential impact the storm has on absentee voting and preparations for the November General Election,” said Don Palmer, Secretary for the SBE. “The agency has been coordinating with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management in conjunction with the Emergency Operations Center, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation and major utility providers. SBE is in close communication with Virginia’s 134 general registrars and electoral boards to monitor developments at the local level and provide guidance and support to the localities as necessary.”

In-person absentee voting in Virginia began on Saturday.

The board said that many localities have local arrangements for alternative power sources such as generators, electronic voting machines are equipped with backup batteries and paper ballots can be used as a last resort. Under Virginia law, local electoral boards can request that the SBE grant an emergency polling place relocation if power issues or other problems prevent the use of normal polling places.

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