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How Will We Vote If There's A Disaster On Election Day?

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In a briefing after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast on Tuesday, a reporter asked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie the question that was probably on many minds: What about Election Day?  "It doesn't matter a lick to me at the moment,” Christie responded. “I've got bigger fish to fry." Theoretically, a week will give governments enough time to clear roads and restore power so voting is possible next Tuesday. But if Sandy had hit a week later, how would people have voted?

Experts tell NPR that there is no contingency plan or law that dictates what should happen if a major natural disaster strikes on Election Day. Many states have provisions that focus on local effects—like moving polling places to neighboring precincts—that could conceivably be used to reschedule an election. But according to the Congressional Research Service, “The Constitution does not provide in express language any current authority for a federal official or institution to ‘postpone’ an election for federal office.”

Postponing the vote, whether in a single city, state or across multiple states, would likely skew the results of a national election. And in the event of a huge natural disaster, not only will it be difficult for voters to actually traverse roads in order to vote, but state and local officials will have many other priorities than ensuring that voting centers remain open and properly staffed.

There are some options that could take the pressure off, like early voting. But many states don’t offer in-person early voting, which has become its own political issue (some states are trying to discourage the practice). And, says North Dakota Senator Ray Holmberg, “Elected officials are reluctant to take on the task of canceling the election and being accused of doing that for partisan purposes.”

While it would undoubtedly be smarter to have a plan in place should an event like Sandy occur on or just before Election Day, Doug Lewis, executive director of the National Association of Election Officials, isn’t hopeful that we’ll get one. "We'll ignore it until it happens, and when it happens, we'll figure it out," he told NPR. "It's not the best way to go about doing something like this." Bottom line: In the event of an Election Day disaster, officials will be left scrambling.

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Big Questions
What Is the Difference Between Generic and Name Brand Ibuprofen?
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What is the difference between generic ibuprofen vs. name brands?

Yali Friedman:

I just published a paper that answers this question: Are Generic Drugs Less Safe than their Branded Equivalents?

Here’s the tl;dr version:

Generic drugs are versions of drugs made by companies other than the company which originally developed the drug.

To gain FDA approval, a generic drug must:

  • Contain the same active ingredients as the innovator drug (inactive ingredients may vary)
  • Be identical in strength, dosage form, and route of administration
  • Have the same use indications
  • Be bioequivalent
  • Meet the same batch requirements for identity, strength, purity, and quality
  • Be manufactured under the same strict standards of FDA's good manufacturing practice regulations required for innovator products

I hope you found this answer useful. Feel free to reach out at www.thinkbiotech.com. For more on generic drugs, you can see our resources and whitepapers at Pharmaceutical strategic guidance and whitepapers

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Big Questions
Do Cats Fart?
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Certain philosophical questions can invade even the most disciplined of minds. Do aliens exist? Can a soul ever be measured? Do cats fart?

While the latter may not have weighed heavily on some of history’s great brains, it’s certainly no less deserving of an answer. And in contrast to existential queries, there’s a pretty definitive response: Yes, they do. We just don’t really hear it.

According to veterinarians who have realized their job sometimes involves answering inane questions about animals passing gas, cats have all the biological hardware necessary for a fart: a gastrointestinal system and an anus. When excess air builds up as a result of gulping breaths or gut bacteria, a pungent cloud will be released from their rear ends. Smell a kitten’s butt sometime and you’ll walk away convinced that cats fart.

The discretion, or lack of audible farts, is probably due to the fact that cats don’t gulp their food like dogs do, leading to less air accumulating in their digestive tract.

So, yes, cats do fart. But they do it with the same grace and stealth they use to approach everything else. Think about that the next time you blame the dog.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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