The United States went to poll on Tuesday even as 1.4 million houses and businesses were without electricity, there was chronic fuel shortage as temperature reached freezing point and normalcy was yet to be restored after last weekâ€™s devastating super-storm that killed 110, most of them in the North-Eastern states. What they feared most was another storm, which is likely to lash the North-East by the middle of the week.
Naturally there was initial confusion and long lines in New York and New Jersey as the voters tried to cast ballots in one of the closest electoral battles in the recent times.
Officials had to face unprecedented challenges in the storm-hit region as polling stations were among the thousands of buildings damaged by Sandy exactly eight days ago.
New York and New Jersey took measures to ease the process of election. In New York voters were allowed to exercise their franchise at any polling place by presenting an affidavit. In New Jersey, those affected by Sandy were designated as overseas voters and allowed to cast ballots by fax or email.
â€œWe want everyone to vote. Just because you are displaced doesn’t mean you should be disenfranchised,â€ was how Governor Andrew Cuomo said before the polling started.
Voting was delayed for about half an hour as poll workers struggled with the generators at a voting precinct set up in an unheated tent in the Rockaways, a beachfront in the New York City borough of Queens.
There is likelihood that low voter turnout in storm-ravaged states could allow Republican challenger Mitt Romney to win the popular vote even if Obama wins the state-by-state Electoral College race.
In New York City, the schools which reopened on Monday were closed again on Tuesday for Election Day.
But as the country voted on Tuesday the storm-ravaged states battled for yet another day to limp back to normal. Commuters had to wait for long on railway platforms or street corners in New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut as buses and trains are still not running at full strength.
Long lines can still be found at gas stations and many of them still lacked electricity or gasoline. As fuel rationing was in force in New Jersey some residents hired school children to stand in line with gas cans.
Even as the voting was on the fear of a new storm, by any time in the middle of the week, looms large. The authorities just prayed that at least the election is completed by then.