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Still voting, despite storm damage

Voting was the latest challenge for the hundreds of thousands of people in the New York-New Jersey area still affected by Superstorm Sandy.

The campaigns of both sides have long assumed that the heavily Democratic region would support Barack Obama, but determined voters were taking special election shuttles 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 torchlight.

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 Atlantic coast, many of them in public housing projects, continued to search for housing options a week after the storm as night-time temperatures remained near freezing and power had not yet returned. A few desperate people burned their furniture.

And officials worried about the approach of yet another storm, smaller than Sandy but with the potential for more power cuts, rising waters, heavy rain and gusts of up to 60 mph.

Sandy killed more 100 people in 10 states, almost all of them in New York and New Jersey. Nearly a million homes and businesses remained without power.

Because so many people have been displaced, New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing people to vote in the elections at any polling place in the state. New Jersey had already taken similar measures.

"Just because you are displaced doesn't mean you are disenfranchised," he said. "Compared to what we have had to deal with in the past week, this will be a walk in the park when it comes to voting."

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