HAGERSTOWN, Md. - Power company and government officials said Friday they are optimistic that the blizzard that paralyzed Garrett County this week won't prevent residents there from voting on Election Day.
By Friday afternoon, Potomac Edison had restored electricity to 11 of the county's 18 polling places, spokesman Todd Meyers said. He said the company aims to have all of them back on line Monday.
Garrett County roads superintendent Jay Moyer said all roads blocked by snow or fallen trees will be passable by Election Day.
Voting in Garrett County could affect the outcome of a close race in the 6th Congressional District between the incumbent, Republican Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, and Democratic challenger John Delaney. Although the rural county has less than 19,000 registered voters, or just 4 percent of the district's total, 62 percent of those voters are Republicans. Political experts say Bartlett needs every vote he can muster in a redrawn district with 32 percent more registered Democrats than Republicans and 94,000 unaffiliated voters.
"If it's a close election, this could be the causal event," said Herbert C. Smith, a political science professor at McDaniel College.
But both Smith and Paul Herrnson, director of the Center for American Politics and Citizenship, at the University of Maryland-College Park, were doubtful that the problems caused by Superstorm Sandy would keep Garrett County voters from the polls.
State Board of Elections Administrator Linda Lamone said she was confident that any lingering storm effects wouldn't' prevent Marylanders from voting.
"We provided the power companies weeks ago with lists of polling places, and that greatly assisted the power companies in prioritizing what they had to do to meet our obligation to provide voting for our citizens," she said.
Spokesmen for the state Democratic and Republican parties said their volunteers stand ready to help voters get to the polls.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)