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Displaced voters head to Valley Stream

More than a dozen voters filled the pint-size gymnasium at Brooklyn Avenue School in Valley Stream early this evening.

Through doors at the main entrance, voters followed signs with arrows toward the gym.

One sign near a set of doors closest to the gym revealed that students at the school were also getting in on voting this year. “Cast your ballot. Joe Higgins student council secretary.”

Christel Verni, chairwoman of the 83rd election district, said, “It’s been busy.”

As of 5 p.m., about 280 people had voted at one table and more than 300 at another, said Verni. Some voters from Atlantic Beach and Oceanside cast affidavit ballots because they had been displaced by superstorm Sandy.

The electricity and scanners had been working consistently since 6 a.m., she said, adding, “Everything’s moving smoothly.”

Michael Duffy, 51, of Valley Stream, has five family members displaced from Long Beach who have lived with him in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

Duffy said he has sat more than six hours in three different lines the last two days to get gas for six cars — including rental cars used by family members whose own cars were flooded. That excludes the gas needed for the generator fueling his father’s oxygen tanks.

Still, Duffy said, he was determined to make it to the polls. “I vote every year, presidential or nonpresidential,” he said.

He said the issue he was most concerned about was taxes. “We’re paying a lot for taxes and it’s not getting to where it’s supposed to get,” Duffy said.

He was undecided about the presidential election, but ended up voting on Republican party lines across the board.

Duffy was impressed by Mitt Romney’s business acumen and economic plan, but said the process deciding between the presidential candidates was “difficult.”

Mariah Williams, 27, of Valley Stream, said she lived nearby and was able to walk to the polling site.

Of the presidential election, she said, “If I had a choice, I wouldn’t have voted for either one of them. Obama should have done more, but granted, it’s only been four years.”

Williams, a certified nursing assistant, said she voted for Obama — “the lesser of two evils” — partly because she didn’t agree with Romney’s stance on women’s issues, particularly abortion.

“That’s not a decision anyone else should make; it’s your body,” she said, adding that foster care systems are already strained as it is. “I like having the option of all the different services we have now.”

Williams also followed campaigns for the new 22nd State Assembly district. She voted for Michaelle Solages because, Williams said, she has seen the work that Solages has done in the community — particularly in the Haitian community. “It was someone that you feel comfortable with, who is going to fight for the things you want to see,” Williams said.

Due, in part, to gas shortages, Williams drove her grandmother and aunt to the polls. Despite losing power for several days because of Sandy, she said she had to vote.

“I didn’t care if I had to take a boat,” she said. “We can’t do much about Sandy, but we can do something about our country the next four years.”

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