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Tompkins County swamped with affidavit ballots

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Tompkins County swamped with affidavit ballots
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Millions of people along the eastern seaboard are still dealing with the remnants of Hurricane Sandy and a week after she hit, the Tompkins County Board of Elections is now dealing with a problem left in her wake. YNN's Chris Whalen has the story.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Workers at the Tompkins County Board of Elections sorted through absentee ballots Wednesday, but here's a larger task awaiting them this year. In nearby bins are thousands of affidavit ballots.

"We ended up running out of affidavit envelopes. We had two thousand for the election and we were making some at that point," said Elizabeth Cree, Elections Commissioner for Tompkins County.

The reason for the influx? Hurricane Sandy.

After many voters downstate were displaced because of the storm, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order earlier in the week allowing victims to vote at any polling place in the state.

"Emails were flying from universities and from campaigns that if you're registered in these New York counties, just go to a polling place where you are now and vote," Cree said.

Many students who attend college in Tompkins County misinterpreted the messages thinking that anyone who was away from their polling place could get a ballot.

"The students, especially, thought if you didn't get an absentee ballot because they were at college and missed their deadline, they could still vote an affidavit," Cree said.

In addition to 3,700 absentee ballots, the Board of Elections must inspect thousands of affidavit ballots by hand to see which are valid. It’s a tight deadline as all of the counting must be done within 25 days to certify Tuesday's election.

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