NEW ORLEANS - The mayor of New Orleans said Sunday that it's unclear whether electrical service that was knocked out during Hurricane Zeta will be restored to all polling places by Election Day.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said as many as 11 precincts could still be without power Tuesday. The Democratic mayor said that Louisiana's Republican secretary of state, Kyle Ardoin, and his commissioner of elections, Sherri Wharton Hadskey, "are refusing to provide support for generators" for those precincts.
"In failing to fulfill its duty, the Secretary of State's office risks disenfranchising Orleans residents and threatens to suppress the vote," Cantrell said in a news release.
Cantrell also said the Secretary of State's office "has taken the unprecedented position" that the city must use its employees and money to provide generators for polling places.
Ardoin issued a statement Saturday saying that Louisiana polling places without power would receive generators for Election Day, but it did not specify whether providing the generators would be a state or local responsibility.
"It is unfortunate that politicians like Mayor Cantrell ... have responded to Hurricane Zeta by trying to score cheap political points instead of being part of any solution," Ardoin said in a news release Sunday.
Zeta hit southeastern Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane Wednesday before sweeping through parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. The storm initially knocked out power for about 2.5 million customers. More than 343,500 outages were still reported in those states Sunday, according to poweroutage.us, though it was unclear whether all were because of Zeta.
Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson said Friday that the state emergency management agency is on standby to provide support to any county that needs it before or on Election Day.
Gabriel Sterling, voting system implementation manager for the Georgia Secretary of State, said Friday that he's been in contact with Georgia Power and with the electric membership cooperatives and expects power to be restored to the state's 2,419 polling places by Tuesday. Sterling also said the Secretary of State's office was talking to the state emergency management agency about backup generators.