The Long Island Power Authority said Friday that “several hundred” polling sites in Nassau and Suffolk counties will not have power restored in time for Election Day.
But LIPA officials vowed that elections will go on Tuesday as scheduled.
“The election will happen and people will have a place to vote,” said Michael Hervey, LIPA’s chief operating officer.
The situation has political figures predicting an Election Day filled with confusion and saying normal voting patterns could be rendered irrelevant.
“No one has a clue” as to how the storm will affect voting, said Steve Schlesinger, an attorney who reprsents Nassau Democrats in election-law cases.
“I think there's going to be such confusion on Election Day,” he said. “What polling places are going to be available? A lot of people have no gas to drive to their polling place. I don't know how to game this one. Some of my staff who live in Suffolk are staying with relatives in Queens. Are they going to risk the gas to drive to Suffolk and vote? That’s the part no one knows.”
Currently, LIPA is consulting with the election boards in each county to determine what sites among the more than 700 across the Island won’t have power come Tuesday, where to bring emergency generators to power electronic voting machines and in what cases a polling place must be relocated.
Already, Nassau County has decided it will have to consolidate polling sites in Long Beach, Woodmere and Island Park, according to Democratic Elections Commissioner William Biamonte. He said “10 or 11” polling sites in Long Beach will be relocated to one spot, possibly at Nickerson Park or the Malibu Beach Club.
County and power officials have been holding twice daily conference calls to assess the situation.
The utility has asked for federal assistance with the problem, including requesting the Army Corps of Engineers to clear debris from some of the locations. U.S. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is working to secure federal funding for the work, Hervey said.
Nassau has requested at least 143 generators to use at polling sites; Suffolk 200.
[With reporting by Mark Harrington, Celeste Hadrick and Kevin Deutsch]