Long Island Elections: Hurricane Sandy’s Effect

Nassau County Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner William Biamonte says the Nov. 6 elections will go on, despite Hurricane Sandy’s destructive wrath. (Christopher Twarowski/Long Island Press)

Nassau County election officials coping with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy say the election will be held next Tuesday, no matter what. But the question for many voters, besides “who,”  is: “Where?”

According to Nassau Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner William Biamonte, some Nassau residents will be “voting in less than optimal conditions.”


As of Thursday afternoon, the county had checked out two-thirds of its precincts, some 221 out of 375 polling locations, and discovered that 111 had no power and 41 were running on generators. The goal, Commissioner Biamonte tells the Long Island Press, is “try to create as much normalcy as possible” for voters looking to exercise their Constitutional right on Nov. 6.

Residents of Long Beach, one of the hardest hit areas in the county, may have to wait for several days until the county has made a final assessment of all the polling precincts before they find out where they will cast their ballots. Officials can’t simply send 20,000 Long Beach voters to Island Park, says Biamonte, which has enough problems handling its own registered voters given the post-Sandy hardships.

A team of inspectors went to Long Beach Thursday but it was “hard to make an assessment” because of the power outage, Biamonte says. Complicating the situation is that schools were closed, so in some cases police officers went to the voting sites themselves to determine if the structures were sound.

But no matter what, Biamonte says, the election will still happen. More details about voting locations will be released after a meeting of election officials Friday morning, he said.

On Thursday the commissioners met with LIPA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the county’s Office of Emergency Management and other key officials to see if they could find out what areas won’t have power come Election Day but it was too soon to tell, given the scope of restoring power for millions of Long Islanders.

In the worst-case scenario, Biamonte says, voters will just use paper ballots, and instead of scanning them optically, they’ll place them in ballot boxes.

“It will be just like Colonial times,” Biamonte says, “but instead of holding candles, we’ll be holding flashlights.”

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