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LIPA looks to alternatives at polling sites

This May 3, 2010 file photo shows a

This May 3, 2010 file photo shows a "vote here" sign near a polling place open. Credit: AP

Several hundred polling sites in Nassau and Suffolk counties will not have power restored in time for Election Day, Long Island Power Authority officials said Friday.

Currently, LIPA is consulting with the election boards in each county to determine what sites among the more than 700 across Long Island won't have power by Tuesday, where to bring emergency generators to power electronic voting machines and in what circumstances a polling place must be relocated. The counties have requested a total of more than 300 generators for polling sites.

"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 confusion on Election Day and saying normal voting patterns could be rendered irrelevant.

"No one has a clue," as to how the storm will affect voting, said Steven Schlesinger, an attorney who represents 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."

Already, Nassau officials have decided 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.

While the board can move polling places as late as Monday, that doesn't leave much time to let voters know where to go, Biamonte said.

Suffolk County announced it's relocated several polling sites in Babylon along with sites in Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip and Smithtown.

Local and state election officials have slated a conference call with LIPA on Saturday.

Nassau has requested at least 143 generators to use at polling sites, while Suffolk has asked for 200. New "optical scan" voting machines require electricity whereas old lever-style machines didn't.

LIPA is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to clear debris from some polling locations. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is working to secure federal funding for the work, Hervey said.

Also on Friday, Suffolk elections officials announced extended weekend hours for those who want to apply and vote in person by absentee ballot. Those wanting an absentee ballot and to vote immediately in person can go to the Suffolk Board of Elections office on Yaphank Avenue in Yaphank from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.

Voters with questions about polling places can call 516-571-

2411 in Nassau and 631-852-4500 in Suffolk.

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