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Thursday, 6 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Neil Debbage, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia; and N. Gonsalves, J. M. Shepherd, and J. A. Knox

Handout (5.8 MB)

Superstorm Sandy was an unprecedented meteorological event that devastated the Caribbean and the Northeastern Coast of the United States in October 2012. This study evaluates the effects of Sandy on the 2012 US Presidential Election, which occurred just over one week after the storm made landfall in the Northeast. The goals of this paper are to 1) determine if any alterations in voter turnout occurred, 2) assess Sandy's impact on changes in voter turnout and 3) investigate the potential relationship between voter turnout change and human vulnerability. To accomplish these goals, voter turnout change between the 2008 and 2012 US Presidential Elections was analyzed at the county and municipal level for both New Jersey and Connecticut. Voter turnout change was calculated by comparing the percentage of registered voters who actually cast a ballot in the 2012 Presidential Election with the same values from 2008. The notable decreases in voter turnout discovered in both New Jersey and Connecticut were likely due to the election falling in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Specifically, the results indicate that storm surge coverage was more influential in reducing voter turnout than storm tide height. The correlation, spatial clustering analysis and ANOVA results all suggest that Sandy was more responsible for reduced voter turnout in New Jersey than in Connecticut. Surprisingly, municipalities with smaller decreases in voter turnout generally consisted of more vulnerable populations.