Dam­ag­ing storms pos­si­ble on Elec­tion Day in South­east

Rome News-Tribune - - POLICE - By Jay Reeves

BIRM­ING­HAM, Ala. — Parts of the south­east­ern United States are at risk for se­vere weather in­clud­ing tor­na­does early on Elec­tion Day, but of­fi­cials said peo­ple should still be able to vote even if storms cause power out­ages.

A storm sys­tem mov­ing out of eastern Arkansas late Mon­day ahead of a cold front will spread across the re­gion dur­ing the overnight hours into Tues­day, NOAA's Storm Pre­dic­tion Cen­ter said.

The weather ser­vice said pow­er­ful tor­na­does, dam­ag­ing winds, and heavy rains are pos­si­ble overnight in an area that in­cludes eastern Arkansas, north­east­ern Louisiana, north­ern Mis­sis­sippi, north­ern Alabama and west­ern Ten­nessee as far north as the Ken­tucky line.

There was a slight risk of se­vere weather over a wider area, and more than 23 mil­lion peo­ple to­tal live in ar­eas with at least a mar­ginal risk of se­vere weather, fore­cast­ers said. Storms could reach from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes.

In Mis­sis­sippi, the sec­re­tary of state's of­fice said vot­ing ma­chines have back-up bat­ter­ies. If the bat­ter­ies fail, lo­cal elec­tion of­fi­cials are ready to move emer­gency pa­per bal­lots, as al­ready hap­pens dur­ing oc­ca­sional ma­chine fail­ures, said Leah Rupp Smith, a spokes­woman for the of­fice.

Brandee Pa­trick, a spokes­woman for the Louisiana Sec­re­tary of State's Of­fice, de­scribed a sim­i­lar sys­tem there.

"It takes quite some time for the bat­ter­ies in the ma­chines to go out," Pa­trick said. "But if all else fails, there will be pa­per bal­lots if the ma­chines have no power."

The Alabama sec­re­tary of state's of­fice is work­ing with emer­gency man­age­ment of­fi­cials and the gover­nor's of­fice and has a plan for Elec­tion Day, said spokesman John Ben­nett, who re­fused to re­lease de­tails "to avoid mis­in­form­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic." Sev­eral school sys­tems in north Alabama de­layed open­ing on Tues­day as a pre­cau­tion to al­low time for the sys­tem to pass.

The threat of se­vere weather fol­lows storms that were blamed for two deaths in the Gulf Coast area last week. More than 100,000 homes and busi­nesses were left with­out power by that sys­tem, which in­cluded at least a dozen tor­na­does.

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