Residents of Breezy Point Queens vote at St. Genevieve Parish Hall in New York on Tuesday.(Photo: Mehdi Taamallah, AFP/Getty Images)
WESTBURY, N.Y. -- On a quiet street lined with the occasional remains
of a downed tree or branch, voters in quiet Westbury, Long Island,
trickled into the beige stone one-story Westbury Water District Garage
Tuesday morning to cast ballots.
Merely a week after Superstorm
Sandy ravaged much of the East Coast, general election voting here
appeared to be running smoothly with no wait at all.
"Piece of cake," said Westbury resident Matt Cahill, 49, whose life in the week since Hurricane Sandy has been anything but.
was so hard hit that Nassau County, N.Y., election officials had to
move two polling places to the water district garage. Cahill and his
family just got their power back Monday. Because of the cold, he and his
wife sent their four children to stay with his mother in Garden City
Park. The lawyer who normally commutes to Manhattan worked out of an
office his firm operates in Jericho, Long Island.
That was not the story everywhere.
across the storm-ravaged East Coast left their unlit, unheated homes,
walked past generators and fallen tree limbs and cast their votes. Many
voted in polling places far from their voting districts under rules
improvised by election officials to smooth the election process despite a
storm that knocked out power to millions and flooded thousands of homes
just a week ago.
At a school on Manhattan's East 23rd Street,
some voters waited more than an hour to cast ballots, and two poll
workers nearly came to blows with each other as they tried to handle the
"Things are a little hectic in the New York City area,"
where storm dislocations and recovery efforts were having an impact at
polling places, said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo signed an
executive order earlier in the week allowing voters in five hard-hit
counties who were displaced by Sandy to cast a vote for statewide and
national races anywhere in the state. "Whatever your (political)
preference today, please vote. Your patience at the polling places is
required, as it has been all week long."
In Belmar, N.J., one of the hardest-hit towns along the Jersey Shore, it is difficult to stay away from the polls.
any moment, half the town, it seemed, was congregating at the municipal
complex on Main Street. In addition to being the site of a consolidated
polling place for the entire borough, it's also the epicenter of the
local storm relief effort.
So in addition to casting a ballot,
residents could charge their cellphone, get a hot meal, pick up clothes
and groceries, register with FEMA and find out what is going on around
Anita L. Adams, 73, whose mobile home on Route 35 is still
without power, left with a winter coat, a blanket, a roll of toilet
paper, a can of beans, a bag of dog food - and the satisfaction of
knowing she had performed her civic duty.
"All done," she said. "Now I'm ready to go home and make a big pot of hot soup."
Ellis hasn't had power in his Montclair, N.J., home since the night of
Oct. 29. And early Tuesday he was racing to catch a bus so that he could
get to the Manhattan bank where he works for the first time in seven
days. But first he had to vote.
"Despite what I'm going through, I
realize how important this vote is,'' said Ellis. "I have nothing but
bad feelings for Mitt Romney. I don't like him. I don't trust him. I
think Obama is a man of integrity. ... Let him finish what he started.''
two blocks away from Ellis' polling place at a local church, a handful
of streets remained in darkness. But the polling place had power, and
the line of voters that at times stretched out the door moved relatively
quickly, with voters waiting 15 to 20 minutes to get into the voting
Lora Wegner, a school teacher who lives in West Orange,
says she was without power for four days. Now her lights are on, but she
knows many other people are still suffering and she worries that the
aftermath of Hurricane Sandy could keep some away from the polls.
don't know how these people feel,'' said Wegner. "Some people have
nothing. I dropped clothes off yesterday at the Red Cross. People are
picking their grandparents' pictures off the lawn. Whether voting is
important to them, I don't know.''
Despite fallen trees from
Superstorm Sandy lying across the street and some local residents still
without power, voter turnout was heavy on a cold, sunny morning at Head
O'Meadow elementary school in western Connecticut.
officials in New Jersey and New York moved dozens of polling places and
made other accommodations for voters displaced by the storm.
New Jersey, Secretary of State Kim Guadagno has allowed voters to cast
provisional ballots in any county for statewide races, which include
votes for president, the Senate and two statewide ballot questions, said
her spokesman, Ernest Landante.
Election officials will count
those ballots at the end of the day, after verifying the voter's
registration, signature and that he or she cast only one vote in the
election, Landante said.
The list of polling stations that needed
to be relocated because of the storm dropped from 800 last week to less
than 100 Monday and zero this morning, he said. The reasons vary. Some
came off the list because utilities provided power to those locations.
Others have been moved or combined with polling places in the same
district or nearby, he said.
Roughly 60 polling places were
relocated in New York City, most because of structural damage, power
outages or both caused by Superstorm Sandy. The moves, combined with the
city's first use of electronically scanned ballots for a presidential
election, led to long lines and some short tempers.
generators brought in to power polling places in a few areas hard hit by
the storm initially failed to operate, but were later fixed, Valerie
Vazquez, a spokeswoman for the New York City Board of Elections, said
shortly after 11 a.m. The board hired extra information clerks to help
voters find the proper line for their election district, said Vazquez.
getting calls from polling places around the city that the early
turnout is high," said Vazquez. "We're asking people to have patience
with us. Our goal is to ensure that everybody who wants to vote gets to
In Connecticut, the storm caused election officials to move
only two of the state's 773 polling places, said Av Harris, a spokesman
for the Connecticut Secretary of the State. This morning, 9,426
customers of Connecticut's two electric companies remained out of power.
hurricane is an issue," said Harris. "Some roads are blocked, and it
may affect voter turnout. But we're a lot better off than a week ago. We
didn't get hit as hard as New Jersey."
In Hudson County, N.J., an
already challenging election was getting bogged down by voters who are
not eligible for special e-mail ballots requesting them anyway, Deputy
Hudson County Clerk Janet Larwa told the Daily Record.
Jersey is allowing voters displaced by Superstorm Sandy to vote by
e-mail or fax as state residents living overseas and members of the
military are able to do. But Larwa said she received 2,000 requests for
e-mail ballots by noon, many from people who were not displaced.
Hooper Avenue Elementary in Toms River, N.J., election clerk Chris
Patterson was expecting voters from 10 election districts rather than
four, as voters from ravaged barrier island towns such as Seaside
Heights made their way inland to vote.
Patterson was expecting
about another 200 voters. The extra load is smaller than it might have
been because Ocean County opened three emergency offices where people
could vote early. Change is coming so quickly that even Patterson can't
keep up with it all. With an embarrassed smile, he said he's not quite
sure how the state's plans to accept ballots via fax and e-mail will
"To tell you the truth I'm not sure," he said. "Our office only received power yesterday."
Sandy's impact will also be felt in residents' votes for local
politicians, said Eddie Denny, a Staten Island resident of about 22
How a local politician reacted after the storm will affect
many people's opinions of that candidate, Denny said. His house was in
one of the hardest hit areas of Staten Island. He is now working on
recovery efforts for his home, but thought taking time to vote was
important because "I want my candidates to win," he said.
Andrew in Newtown, Conn., said women's rights and health care issues
were the major reasons she voted. President Obama "definitely" deserves
another term in office, the 48-year-old writer said.
impressed with how Obama handled the disaster," said Andrew, who spent
four days last week without power. "He seemed very sincere, and I like
the way he and (New Jersey Governor) Chris Christie came together to
help the victims."
Keith Kelly, 49, an IT manager in Newtown,
where some residents are still without power, says he had no problem
getting to a local elementary school to vote, and the storm had no
effect on his view of the presidential election. He says he was
impressed by Mitt Romney during the presidential debates, and it's time for someone new in the White House.
Cassidy, a 25-year-old Staten Island resident, turned out to vote at
the makeshift voting area at New York City's Public School 52 on Staten
Island. The school got soaked with Sandy's floods, so today voters cast
ballots in tents on the outdoor basketball court. Poll workers in puffy
winter coats and gloves sipped warm beverages as they helped voters sign
in. Cuomo's idea to let people vote anywhere is "brilliant," Cassidy
"I was going to come out hell or high water," Cassidy said.
She is going through chemo for breast cancer and brought a book, her
prescriptions, knitting and a small stool in case there was a wait,
though she didn't need them. It took her less than 10 minutes to
register and vote.
Some voters were putting off voting till later
in the day because storm damage left them confused about where to vote
or unable to reach a polling place in time.
Ronny Kapner of Old
Westbury, N.Y., said Tuesday morning things are "a mess" in his
community due to the storm and he did not have a chance to vote before
heading into Manhattan on the Long Island Rail Road for his sales job.
He's not sure where he's supposed to vote or if officials relocated his
polling site because of the storm. He'll vote tonight after work, he
"I think the high school is open," said Kapner, 60. "I'll find out from my wife."
One thing he said he is sure of is that he'll vote "because the country is going to pieces."
Krause of Great Neck, N.Y., lost power in the storm and has been able
to ride out the week with family on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
But on Tuesday, she was headed back to Long Island to check on her house
and to cast her ballot, which she feels is important. Her community
experienced lots of fallen trees, she said.
"I'm going back now because I want to vote," said Krause, 66.