A bomb scare stopped voting for about an hour at the Gatelot Elementary School in Lake Ronkonkoma on Tuesday afternoon, with voting resuming after Suffolk police determined the suspicious package was a Hoverboard, officials said.
“The location was evacuated for a short time, but reopened once an investigation revealed it was a broken Hoverboard,” the police said in a statement.
A 911 call reported a suspicious package in the parking lot at about 3 p.m.
A Lake Ronkonkoma resident who declined to be identified said a police robot was deployed to deal with the object.
Janet Gremli, coordinator for the Gatelot elementary school polling place said about 34 people were evacuated from the building.
Regina Russo, 60, said she tried to vote at the school around 4:30 p.m. but was met by four police cars and the bomb squad. “They said I could come back to vote, I could come back in about an hour, if the building’s still there,” she said. “I got nervous, I was thinking in my head where am I going to go to vote then? This is important.”
“It was very scary,” said Russo, who said it was just the latest event in a turbulent campaign season. “My whole life, I’ve never seen anything like this from the start to the end; it’s like chaos.”
Nick LaLota, the GOP commissioner on the Board of Elections, said perhaps 100 people were affected by the temporary shutdown out of the 3,000 or so expected to vote at that site.
The Board of Elections was set to send voters to another polling site located about half a mile away.
“That’s what we were gearing up to do,” he said, explaining voters would have been given provisional ballots at the alternative site.
That was not necessary, however, as the police said voting could resume at Gatelot, he said.
Kenneth E. Graham, superintendent, Sachem Central School District, said in a statement that the police finished the investigation at about 4:05 p.m.
“The building and grounds were deemed safe, and all activities have returned to normal at Gatelot Elementary School,” he added.
Though the school was closed in the 2015-2016 school year, it still hosts a few sections of prekindergarten and serves as a polling site.
— With Denise M. Bonilla