by Ray Fleming

In one sense the United States is oddly unprepared for disasters of the kind that struck its East Coast on Monday night. No one seems to have a clear picture of what would happen if there were serious difficulties in holding next Tuesday's voting in the normal way.

Individual States are responsible for election administration within broad national guidelines but, for instance, it would probably need an Act of Congress to postpone next Tuesday's voting throughout the country in order to avoid disqualification of voters in the worst hit areas where power may not even have been restored. In the last resort it is possible that State legislatures, rather than the public, could determine which candidate should receive the State's all-important Election College votes.

Although campaigning by the two candidates has been suspended for the moment the torrent of TV commercials continues throughout the country and local lobbying is probably still taking place.

President Obama is in the better position since his calm and in-control appearances as President have shown him to advantage; by contrast Mitt Romney has the problem of avoiding any move that might seem to be taking political advantage of suffering in the hurricane.

The most surprising political intervention came yesterday when the Republican Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, publicly described President Obama's response to the State's emergency needs as “wonderful, excellent, outstanding”.

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