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Absentee ballot deadline extended

A 2012 United States presidential election absentee ballot

A 2012 United States presidential election absentee ballot shows the names of candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. (Oct. 22, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

Election Day might look like a military operation in parts of Nassau County with officials combining multiple polling places into huge "super sites" rigged with generators, tents and lights to ensure the vote goes off without a hitch, an official said Thursday.

Thanks to superstorm Sandy, Long Island election officials are scrambling to make sure polling sites have power to operate Tuesday, coordinating with the state Elections Board. Meanwhile, the state board extended the deadline for applying for absentee ballots to Friday; the original deadline was Tuesday.

Nassau has asked for 143 generators to power polling sites that are currently dark. Suffolk has asked for as many as 200, although that number might decrease by Election Day.

In some areas of Nassau, voting will not go on as normal, said Democrat Elections Commissioner William Biamonte.

"Long Beach, Island Park and Woodmere are dead in the water with no chance of getting power by Tuesday," he said. "So we're looking at moving away from usual sites and going to a 'super site' that combines 10 or 11 polling places in one."

He said details are still being hashed out, but in Long Beach officials are considering setting up voting at Nickerson Park, the Malibu Beach Club or some other locale on the East End. "We'll have tents, generators, lights, sort of like a military operation," Biamonte said.

He wasn't sure where such "super sites" would be in Woodmere or Island Park. State and local officials are slated to huddle again Friday.

Nassau and Suffolk have more than 700 polling sites combined. Nassau has identified 181 sites that can receive voting machines starting Friday.

Suffolk has identified 150, said Jesse Garcia, aide to Republican Elections Commissioner Wayne Rogers. The county hasn't yet determined if some sites will be consolidated.

"Moving a polling place is the last option we want to do," Garcia said.

Biamonte said officials remain optimistic but "very concerned" about getting everything in place by Tuesday. "There's no margin for error," he said. "You can't say we'll do it the next day. Election Day is Election Day."

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