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Superstorm voting challenge

Voting in the U.S. presidential election was the latest challenge for the hundreds of thousands of people in the New York-New Jersey area still affected by Superstorm Sandy, as they struggled to get to undamaged polling places to cast their ballots in one of the tightest elections in recent American history.

The campaigns of both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have long assumed that the heavily Democratic region would support Obama, but determined voters were taking special election shuttle buses from storm-hit areas and voting by affidavit from any polling place they could reach after officials put emergency measures in place.

Early turnout appeared high, despite some malfunctioning machines and confusion over where to go. At least one polling site with power was lit with flares. Some voted by flashlight.

Some polling places were in tents, and some voters were in tears.

"Oh my God, I have been so anxious about being able to vote," said 73-year-old Annette DeBona of hard-hit Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, who was there at dawn. "This is the happiest vote I ever cast in my life."

Tens of thousands of people along the U.S. Atlantic coast, many of them in public housing projects, continued to scramble for housing options a week after the storm as overnight temperatures remained near freezing and power had not yet returned. A few desperate people burned their furniture for warmth.

More than 1 million people remained without power as officials worried about the approach of yet another storm Wednesday, smaller than Sandy but with the potential for more power outages, rising waters, heavy rain and gusts of up to 60 mph (96 kph).

Forecasters on Tuesday said the storm would be weaker than first expected, but winds could gust to 50 mph (80 kph) in New York and New Jersey on Wednesday afternoon and evening. Storm surges are expected to reach perhaps 3 feet (a meter).

While city officials strongly encouraged storm-ravaged communities to seek higher ground before Wednesday's storm, some adamantly refused to leave, fearing looters.

The Canadian Press


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