New York Voting: Hurricane Sandy Displaces Countless Voters in New York City

Lines, lines, and more lines.

This morning, my father practiced his 30-years-old Election Day tradition of voting before he typically catches the B6 to work. Much to his surprise, there was a line that went up and down Vermont St. in the heart of East New York.

The result: I got an early morning tirade that woke me up from sleeping in on my day off.

“I swear they’re trying to pull another Gore! This is a travesty! They’re giving out numbers to vote! They can’t stop us from voting! You better find out if this is happening in minority neighborhoods around the country.” Then I went back to sleep.

The answer to his question probably has a lot to do with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) issuing an executive order that gave New Yorkers that were displaced by Sandy permission to vote at any site. So long as you fill out an affidavit on site, you can vote.

But in all honesty, my father may not have had it as bad as other New Yorkers. After all, a total of nine voting sites were combined into other sites in order to create super voting centers. In some of the hardest hit neighborhoods, voters had to cast their ballot in frigid cold voting tents where some poll officers were completely in over their heads.

But it gets even worse. My grandmother lives in Far Rockaway, where power may not be restored in some areas until Friday. By no surprise, the Board of Elections came up short in giving Far Rockaway voters a smooth Election Day. This morning, voters in the Riis Park area had to scramble to another site. To their chagrin, the site didn’t have any power for the electric polls because the generator, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, ran out of gas. Consequently, the disgruntled voters had to wait hours for battery backed machines to get set up.

In an area where one of the most competitive state Senate races is lined up between incumbent Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), the confusion could be costly. Imagine how many people with traditions as old as my father may have turned away to catch their bus for work? Imagine if it is too hard for them to make it to the site after work and feed their children? Queens’s turnout should reveal some very interesting numbers. Keep in mind that if 25% or less of the voting population in one locale is unable to vote due to natural disasters, that district can request a new date.

PolicyMic will be covering the 2012 election from the state of NY live. For live updates, see here

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Jerome Nathaniel

I am interested in social justice issues that continue to go unaddressed and undermined (prison reform, hunger and poverty and human sex trafficking) by the "juicy" headline stories. I am a recent graduate of the University of Rochester and currently serve as a Hunger Advocate at Rochester's regional food bank, Foodlink. Fun fact: I box, and love to punch things (usually bags. I don't have a problem with people).

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