Alliant Takes Extra Measures to Help Sandy-Deployed Line Crews Vote
By Dave DeWitte, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Alliant Energy line crew members deployed to restore power service to New Yorkers hit by super storm Sandy had a bad realization after they departed.
Most of the 110 crew members hadn't yet cast general election ballots, and it occurred to them they wouldn't be coming back in time to vote in the Nov. 6 general election.
Election officials are heaping praise on Alliant this week for taking extraordinary measures to ensure the workers who are managing 16-hour days in the foothills of New York's Catskill Mountains to cast absentee votes.
Alliant hired a law firm in New York to handle the logistics of getting the absentee votes to the employees and get them returned to their local county auditors without violating election laws.
The ballots are expected to be delivered to the crews Saturday, Nov. 3, and returned via Federal Express delivery on Sunday, Alliant spokesman Justin Foss said.
"We, as a company, didn't want to handle these ballots but we wanted to provide the resources to make sure the crew members could get them," said Justin Foss, an Alliant spokesman. "We know how important the election process is to Iowans."
Before doing any of it, Alliant consulted with the Iowa Secretary of State's office, which oversees elections. About 80 of the line crew members are from Iowa.
The secretary of state notified county auditors of the arrangements Alliant was making due to the unusual circumstances posed by the massive East Coast storm.
By Friday, Alliant was basking in the glow of a warm tweet from Erick Van Lancker, Clinton County's auditor.
"Big kudos to Alliant Energy making sure the folks they shipped east to help with Sandy recovery are able to vote," Van Lancker told his Twitter followers Friday afternoon.
The Cerro Gordo County Auditor's Office also weighed in with praise.
The Alliant crews arrived Tuesday morning in an area about halfway between Albany, New York, and New York City, that experienced widespread outages due to severe thunderstorms with high winds that caused extensive tree damage.
Outages are usually a major inconvenience, but this week's East Coast outages are worse because of the cold fall weather with subfreezing temperatures.
"The cold really adds to it and makes our crews want to expedite this work as much as possible," Foss said.
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