Turnout high in Sandy-hit states
Election day turnout is high in several storm-ravaged areas in New York and New Jersey, with many voters expressing relief and even elation at being able to vote at all, considering the devastation.
Lines were long in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, where residents from the Jersey Shore communities of Point Pleasant Beach and Mantoloking had to cast their ballots due to damage in their home towns.
Many there still have no power, eight days after Superstorm Sandy hit the shore.
At least one polling site with power was lit with flares. Some voted by torchlight. Some polling places were in tents, and some voters were in tears.
“Oh my God, I have been so anxious about being able to vote,” said 73-year-old Annette DeBona of hard-hit Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, who was there at dawn. “This is the happiest vote I ever cast in my life.”
Tens of thousands of people along the Atlantic coast, many of them in public housing projects, continued to search for housing options a week after the storm as night-time temperatures remained near freezing and power had not yet
returned. A few desperate people burned their furniture.
Sandy killed more 100 people in 10 states, almost all of them in New York and New Jersey. Nearly a million homes and businesses remained without power.
Because so many people have been displaced, New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing people to vote in the elections at any polling place in the state. New Jersey had already taken similar measures.
“Just because you are displaced doesn’t mean you are disenfranchised,” he said. “Compared to what we have had to deal with in the past week, this will be a walk in the park when it comes to voting.”
Michael Sirchio, an insurance adjuster from Point Pleasant Beach whose own home was damaged in the storm, voted for Barack Obama, saying he inherited a financial crisis and two wars, and did a good job ending both.
On New York City’s battered Staten Island, voters bundled up and lined up in the early morning darkness outside tents functioning as makeshift polling places.