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Long Beach polls orderly despite storm chaos

Voters turn out to cast their ballots at

Voters turn out to cast their ballots at the Lindell Elementary School in Long Beach. (Nov. 6, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Lisa Strum and her husband arrived to vote at Lindell School in Long Beach just before the evening rush and found a pleasant surprise -- an orderly polling place.

"It's not hectic, it's not wall-to-wall people," Strum said. "It's well managed."

Strum normally walks six blocks to the polls, but she and her husband are staying in Valley Stream because of damage to their home. Like the city where they live, their voting plans were thrown into upheaval at the last minute by superstorm Sandy.

Long Beach, which was crippled by flooding and wind damage during Sandy, was the site of heavy poll consolidation Tuesday. Eight polling sites in Long Beach, Lido Beach and Point Lookout were merged into three.

Long Beach's city buses provided transportation to polls, where voters also arrived by car, bicycle and on foot.

City Manager Jack Schnirman described voting as "a little chaotic," "confusing" and "very busy," but added that the makeshift plan was well executed given the circumstances.

Numerous poll workers at different polling places agreed with Schnirman's assessment -- they described turnout as heavy but orderly throughout the day.

"They're doing the best they can with the muddle that they have," Schnirman said.

At Bishop Molloy Recreation Center in Point Lookout, which also accepted voters who normally vote at Lido Beach Middle School, residents voted in a dusky room with faint light powered by a whirring generator. National Guardsmen at the scene said they were on hand to make sure the generators were used safely.

Sue Nagel of Lido Beach, who usually votes at Lido Middle, said voting was efficient.

"Everybody's either voting early and then cleaning out their basement, or the opposite," Nagel said.

Some supporters of Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg, a Democrat who lives in Long Beach, said they feared the assemblyman's local base would be kept from the polls by storm damage. Weisenberg is defending his seat against David Sussman, a Republican from Lawrence.

Before the results, Weisenberg said he was "not concerned about politics in any way." He said he was using the day to bring food to Sandy victims.

"It's in God's hands," he said, adding that turnout at his polling place was heavy but orderly.

At Lindell School, which took voters who were originally scheduled to vote at four different polling places, Anthony Kirkem said he rode his bike two miles to cast a ballot. He said he has no power or heat at his home, and usually votes at Long Beach City Hall, which is closer to his home than Lindell. But, he said, nothing was keeping him from voting.

The fact that poll workers were "very helpful" at busy Lindell was a big plus, Kirkem said.

"It was orderly, orderly," Kirkem said.

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