Alliant Energy line crew members deployed to restore power service to New Yorkers hit by superstorm Sandy had a realization after they departed.
Most of the 110 crew members, about 80 of whom are from Iowa, hadn’t yet cast general election ballots, and the reality quickly sunk in that they would not be back in time to vote.
But Alliant is taking extraordinary measures to ensure the workers, who are working 16-hour days in the foothills of New York’s Catskill Mountains, can cast absentee votes.
Alliant hired a law firm in New York to handle the logistics of getting the ballots to the employees and returning them to county auditors without violating election laws.
The ballots are expected to be delivered to the crews today and returned via FedEx 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,” Foss said. “We know how important the election process is to Iowans.”
Alliant consulted with the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, which oversees elections.
Several county auditors praised Alliant for its work.
“Big kudos to Alliant Energy making sure the folks they shipped east to help with Sandy recovery are able to vote,” Clinton County auditor Erick Van Lancker told his Twitter followers Friday afternoon.
MidAmerican Energy has 26 employees working on recovery efforts in the Ellenville, N.Y., area. It also has released 250 contractors from commitments to help with the storm recovery.
Tina Pothoff said in an e-mail that the company “is in the process of trying to arrange a similar opportunity, should our employees in the East be interested in voting.”
Pothoff said the MidAmerican crews are in good spirits, and hoping to stay for two weeks to provide as much support as possible.