Newsday reporters are out and about at Long Island polling stations and election headquarters around Long Island.
UPDATED: 12:04 A.M.
UPDATED: 11:20 P.M.
UPDATED: 11:12 P.M.
UPDATED: 9:50 P.M.
On Greece, health care and leadership
No one reported any problems at JFK Intermediate School in Deer Park, which was designated as a polling site to replace two other schools in the local school district. Poll workers said they had no problems with the optimal scanning machines and lines of voters have been steady.
Robert Saia, 79, of Deer Park, an adjunct college professor, said he voted for Mitt Romney. “I just couldn’t vote for Obama. He’s done such a horrible job.”
Saia said he is particularly against Obama’s health care plan. He said there was nothing in particular he liked about Romney, but that he is “the lesser of two evils” and he thinks Romney could do a better job with the economy. “For that matter, I could do a better job with the economy,” Saia said.
Margaret Neuberger, 69, of Deer Park, a retired administrative assistant, also voted for Romney. “We desperately need a change otherwise we’re going to end up like Greece,” she said. “Not to mention Libya. There’s just a lack of leadership there.” She said she feels Romney will be a better leader in areas such as the economy, energy and foreign policy.
Chris Gill, 30, of Deer Park, a social studies teacher in New York City, voted for Obama. Gill said he works with kids living in a high degree of poverty. “I see what federal funding does for kids, how it changes their lives,” Gill said. “I consider myself a moderate. I see both sides equally but being an advocate for education, I felt I had to vote for him.”
Gill added, “I agree with him on a lot of policies, at least domestically.” And on other issues, he said, “It’s more of the fact that I don’t agree with most of Romney’s positions.”
Gill said he does not vote straight across for either party. “I think Obama is better at being a moderate than most people think,” Gill said.
Genie Lieberman, a designer from Deer Park who said she is in her 50s, voted for Obama.
“I believe in him as the president,” Lieberman said. “I believe in his policies. I believe in his humanity. He’s the right person.”
Lieberman said she felt particularly strong about Obama’s health care policy and his views on women’s rights. “I’m very much afraid of Republican change,” she said. “I don’t trust them and I especially don’t trust Romney.”
Raymond Mazzilli, 62, of North Babylon, who owns a high-tech business, voted for Romney. Mazzilli, a registered Democrat, said he picked Romney “because the other guy keeps cutting the wood and it’s still too short,” adding that “Romney is a business man and I think we need a business man at this point.”
Mazilli said he has always been “an old blue dog” Democrat but in this election, for the first time, he voted Republican across the board. “I’m not happy with the whole party,” he said. “They used to be [moderate] but now they’re strictly on the left.”
— DENISE M. BONILLA
In West Babylon, a Donald Trump write-in
Stanley M. Berger, 66, a steam fitter from West Babylon, walked to the school administration building there to conserve his one-fifth of a tank of gas and waited 15 minutes on a line that stretched out the door into the frigid night to cast a protest vote: a write-in for Donald Trump.
“Better than the two running,” he said.
He blamed Romney for moving his personal wealth and other people’s jobs overseas and called Obama glib but underperforming.
“What’s he actually done?” Berger asked, and answered himself in the next breath:
Even the health care bill that many point to as the president’s signature accomplishment?
Especially that. “Garbage,” Berger said. “The sons and grandsons are going to wind up paying for his folly.”'
He recognized that Trump’s chances of winning were exceedingly slim but said he’d felt obligated to turn out anyway, if only to show his dismay. “If you don’t vote, you’re wasting time,” he said. “You’re just a bump on a log.”
Donna DiMezza, 44, a teacher who lives in West Babylon and was waiting on the line, said she blamed the president for “economic turmoil” and said she would vote for Romney.
While she said the gap was closing between Democratic and Republican platforms, she said the conservative values espoused by most Republican candidates were right for the country.
“The country has lost the traditional values it was founded on,” she said. “Everything is accepted — there needs to be boundaries."
— NICHOLAS SPANGLER
‘It’s a shorter line than the gas station’
For Baldwin resident Roselia Vasquez, voting was necessary for the future of her two children, she said.
Vasquez voted for President Barack Obama at Baldwin High School because he supports the protection of Medicaid, financial aid and food stamps, a benefit she lost two years ago.
“Sometimes I don’t have enough to feed my family,” said Vasquez, 49, a factory worker. “My son has to eat at school.”
Married couple Taonya and Michael Knipfing, 46 and 49, respectively, tried to conserve gas so they could vote. A dental assistant and security camera installer, each voted for Obama and each said they were disappointed by the low turnout at their site.
“It’s a shorter line than the gas station,” Michael said.
“I’d rather see longer lines here,” Taonya said. “It makes me nervous.”
— AISHA AL-MUSLIM
‘He hasn’t finished what he started’
Ruben Marshall, 42, a hospital transporter from Wyandanch, was among the voters on line in the evening at Wyandanch High School. He voted for Barack Obama for president.
“Obama came in and is actually trying to change things after that other idiot in there messed everything up,” Marshall said. He said he feels Obama has done a lot to help low-income families, whereas Mitt Romney would “push to do away with Social Security” and other programs that people rely on.
Marie Zidzik, 67, of West Babylon, a retired physical education teacher, also voted for Obama.
“He hasn’t finished what he started,” Zidzik said. She said she also voted for him because there’s the opportunity for several Supreme Court appointments in this next term. Romney, she said, is “out for the corporations. He believes they are the people he serves, not the 47 percent, which he doesn’t think exists.”
— DENISE M. BONILLA
In Selden, every ballot counts
Selden Middle School drew a light turnout in the late afternoon hours, but those who voted said every ballot counts.
“If you don’t vote then you can’t complain when you don’t like what’s going on,” said Rich Majka, 55, of Centereach. He considers himself a “conservative” but stopped short of saying he was voting for Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney. “President Obama is a nice guy, but I’m not sure he’s the right person for the job.”
He added, “Romney is a wheeler and dealer, but maybe that’s what we need.”
Elizabeth Wasilewicz, 42, of Centereach, said she supported Obama because “four years wasn’t enough.”
— DEON J. HAMPTON
Gas-strapped, monitor limits travel
Marvin Smith, chairman of the civic engagement committee at the Islip Town NAACP, was driving around Central Islip on Tuesday, monitoring the polls.
He was sticking strictly to Central Islip, the community where he lives, he said, because, “I only got a quarter of a tank. I ain’t waiting on those long gas lines.”
He said he was pleased with the turnout numbers that poll workers had supplied, which he said would likely equal turnout numbers for the last presidential election in 2008.
In the seven months leading up to today, he said his local branch registered about 600 voters.
At some polling places he surveyed, he said he saw people holding their driver's licenses or other IDs as they waited in line to vote. Smith said poll workers hadn’t asked to see them, but some voters appeared to think they had to show them in order to vote, which is not required under the law. He said he advised poll workers to tell voters to put their IDs away.
Smith said he worried that some voters without IDs might have seen people clutching the identification and had the false impression that they had to show identification to vote and instead left the polling place without voting.
“That bothered me,” he said.
— NICOLE FULLER
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.”
— LAUREN R. HARRISON
UPDATED: 8:54 P.M.
Voters travel far to Oyster Bay
Just a handful of voters were in the gym at the Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School polling site Tuesday afternoon in Oyster Bay hamlet, but poll workers said hundreds of voters had streamed in through the course of the day. Voters there included people from communities as far away as Great Neck whose homes had storm damage and who cast affidavit ballots, poll workers said.
Poll workers said they experienced trouble with one of their optical scanners earlier in the day, but Board of Elections workers had quickly come to fix the problem.
Keryn Meierdiercks, 23, of Mill Neck, has been staying with her father in Kew Gardens, Queens, since Sandy struck and was going home after she cast her ballot to see whether her power had finally been restored, she said.
Meierdiercks, a restaurant manager, said she drove — gas shortage and all — from Kew Gardens to her polling site in Oyster Bay to exercise her right to vote.
“I wanted to make sure I voted,” she said. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a say and you can’t complain about how things are going.”
Meierdiercks said she voted for Barack Obama because she does not trust Mitt Romney’s plan for the country.
— EMILY NGO
UPDATED: 8:25 P.M.
Women’s rights, local work, mistrust drive some votes in Babylon
Mary Gallagher, 62, a retired teacher who lives in Babylon Village, came to Village Hall late Tuesday afternoon to vote for President Obama, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and state Senate candidate Phil Boyle.
Obama, she said, had been competent if not brilliant in his first term while facing outsized expectations. “People perhaps were looking for miracles,” she said.
Gillibrand’s upstate roots gave Gallagher pause. “I don’t know that they consider us as well as a local person does,” she said, but New York’s junior senator got Gallagher’s vote after Gallagher’s brother, an upstate resident, vouched for her.
Gallagher said she’d been impressed by Boyle’s work on behalf of the village library and other local institutions.
Maria McKenzie, 35, a physical therapist from Babylon Village, voted for Obama because she said he would better protect women’s rights and working families.
She said she distrusted Mitt Romney, who she said “never gave a straight answer on anything. Nor do I think he understands what it means to be part of a working-class family.”
— NICHOLAS SPANGLER
UPDATED: 8:16 P.M.
Steady voting, scanner trouble in Manorhaven
Voting was doing a brisk business at Manorhaven Village Hall Tuesday afternoon, with a near-constant line of people waiting to vote.
Of the three optical scanning machines at the site, however, only one was working by 4:30 p.m., said Catherine Lewis, the Democratic poll watcher who was greeting voters at the door.
Lewis said the site had received many affidavit voters from as far away as the Rockaways and Queens.
“This is the busiest it’s ever been,” said Lewis, a veteran elections worker. She said one voter’s car ran out of gas while waiting in line to park, and power was fresh on people’s minds as they queued.
Pat Debari, 69, rode out the storm’s aftereffects with a portable generator, and she said Sandy’s wrath didn’t affect her desire to come out and vote for Mitt Romney.
“I didn’t have any doubt that I was going to go vote,” said Debari, from Manorhaven.
Marvin Harris, 46, of Manorhaven, said his family was without power until last Friday and had to make do with heating the home by boiling water on the stove, but the temporary travails didn’t discourage him from voting, either.
“I’ve been voting in every election,” said Harris, a truck driver, who cast his vote for Barack Obama. He said his father and grandmother, active in the civil rights movement, had brought him up to recognize the importance of voting.
Even if he didn’t have power or fuel, “I still was going to come here to vote,” Harris said. “I don’t think my grandmother or father would let me rest tonight if I didn’t.”
— JENNIFER BARRIOS
UPDATED: 8:01 P.M.
Smooth voting in Mastic Beach, affidavit ballots popular
While voters swapped stories of misery from Sandy, the actual process of voting seemed to be smooth sailing at the Mastic Beach Property Owners Association on Tuesday, voters and election coordinators said.
More than 900 people had voted before 5 p.m., said election coordinator Beatrice Rubsam. No problems with the scanners were reported, but many voters used affidavit ballots, she said. The polling site had gone through about 200 affidavit ballots by early evening, she said, with displaced voters coming from all over Long Island and New York City. Two voters from Florida and Connecticut were even able to vote, albeit only for the president.
Voters said the difficulties from the storm and gas shortages didn’t deter them from voting in what many called a critical presidential race.
“This year it was different,” said Nicholas Gatto, 41, a Mastic Beach resident who was recently laid off from his job with a tech company. He voted for Romney because “we need a change,” he said, and said the economy was the most important issue to him.
He also hoped the electorate will rally around the next president. “The community has to follow,” he said. “It’s like an army.”
“I would have walked here on my kneecaps. It’s very important to me,” said Jennifer Carritue, 41, who works in retail and lives in Mastic Beach. She voted for Obama and every other Democrat candidate, though she opted to vote for them on the Working Families line when it was an option.
“I believe that things have happened with him,” she said. “Especially since we went through this hurricane. He took care of people.” She said she didn’t follow the local races.
Beverly Schmitt, of Mastic Beach, said the storm didn’t deter her from voting. She also voted for a straight Democratic ticket. “I voted for Obama because I think he’s going to do a good job, and I don’t believe what Mitt Romney says,” she said. Schmitt said she did follow the Tim Bishop-Randy Altschuler Congressional race and voted against Altshuler because “I don’t believe he’s going to do what he says he is going to do.”
Cindy White-Magee, 47, a school secretary from Mastic Beach, said the storm’s difficulties made her even more set to go vote for the Democratic ticket. “Sometimes it looks like an obstacle but it just makes you more determined,” she said of the storm coming right before Election Day.
Independent voter Joan Kennedy, 52, a retired civil servant from Mastic Beach, said she voted for Obama again and all Democratic candidates. “I didn’t mind coming out,” even though she is trying to conserve gas. “I feel this election is more important than the last one.”
— SOPHIA CHANG
UPDATED: 7:25 P.M.
Daughter, dad negate each other’s vote
Carol Galgano, 70, a retired fire safety teacher from Oyster Bay Cove, has been living in Lindenhurst with her father, Anthony Simone, since her house lost power during Sandy.
That meant a 40-minute drive to Oyster Bay early Tuesday morning to check on her house and to vote and a return trip to Lindenhurst so she could take her father to vote at Edward W. Bower Elementary School on Montauk Highway.
She voted for President Obama and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, she said.
Endorsements from the New Yorker and Economist magazines and from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg influenced her presidential vote, she said, as had New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recent praise of the president.
Her own assessment of Obama is that he’s done “a phenomenal job” after “stepping into a real mess.”
As for Romney, she said, “I can’t tell what he believes.”
She knew that her father’s vote would cancel hers out, she said, but believes “everybody should express” themselves by voting. “I drove him here,” she said. “If I was a different kind of daughter, I could have made an excuse.”
Her father, Anthony Simpone, 94, a retired Republic Aircraft superintendent who lives in the Venetian Shores section of Lindenhurst, voted for Romney because, “I think he’s a heck of a lot better administrator.”
He blamed Obama for growing the national debt and was optimistic about the challenger because “anyone who can run a business has got to have something on the ball.”
Simpone didn’t vote a straight ticket, though, casting his ballot for Democrat Rich Schaffer in the Babylon Town supervisor’s race.
Bower Elementary was the polling place for many residents of the village’s neighborhoods worst hit by Sandy, and last week hosted a FEMA vehicle where Sandy’s victims could apply for disaster assistance.
On Election Day there were no voting lines and few signs of the damage sustained just blocks south.
— NICHOLAS SPANGLER
UPDATED: 7 P.M.
Voting and speed-dialing LIPA
Sheri Goodstadt voted for the president of the United States, as well as local officials, with her cellphone to her ear.
When she walked out of her polling place at St. James Elementary School -- not looking particularly inspired -- the phone was still to her ear, though she wasn't talking.
"Fifty-six minutes," she said, revealing the running time of her phone call and the saved number she was dialing: LIPA. "No one is answering. I've been nine days without power and no one is answering."
Goodstadt, 53, said she was so angry about her situation at home, especially after half of her neighborhood got power restored two days ago, that her husband had to persuade her to go out and vote.
"I haven't seen a TV in nine days," she said. "I have no cell service at my home. I have no idea what's going on. I did not want to vote. I'm just really angry."
The only information she's received about the election recently? "Tim Bishop's camp keeps calling my cellphone to tell me to vote," she said. "This is my only line in and out and Tim Bishop calls it. I only have 40% battery left and nowhere to charge my phone."
She tried not to let her anger cloud her judgment, she said. Locally, she voted for Bishop anyway.
Pat and Adele Caruso, 63 and 66, respectively, also of St. James, also said they felt disconnected from the political process.
Still without power at home, the couple has been listening to NPR as their only means of staying connected.
"We've been out of the loop," Pat Caruso said. "we have no TV, no news, there's not a lot of information. Our minds were already made up but it would have been nice to be in that news loop leading up to the election."
Nydia Maldonado, 51, of St. James -- with newly restored electricity -- said she was concerned with so many of her friends and neighbors out of power that voter turnout would be low, but that didn't seem to be the case.
"A lot of people came," she said. "a lot of friends have been here."
The limited access to information didn't bother Maldonado, perhaps because she already had her mind made up: Obama deserved another chance.
"I think he's doing OK," she said. "you're always going to have to clean up from the president before you. These four years he had a lot to clean up, the next four years are his."
Still, Goodstadt, who admitted she would typically be more interested in the election, was only concerned with one kind of cleaning up.
"I'm going back to a freezing cold house," she said, adding that her family has a small generator they've been using to get by, but one by one, it has been burning out her appliances. "How can they leave us in the dark?"
UPDATED: 6:07 P.M.
Great Neck school gets power in time
A steady stream of people flowed into polls at the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Great Neck on Tuesday afternoon. The school had its power restored hours before, just in time for Election Day.
Marc Maniscalo, a Democratic poll coordinator at the school, said voting was going smoothly. For most of the voters, the school was their regular polling place, but Maniscalo said about 15 to 20 affidavit votes were cast by displaced voters from such areas as Long Beach.
“Everything’s been good. It’s a nice turnout. We’ve been getting a lot more [voters] than I expected,” he said.
Power — and the lack of it — was fresh on voters’ minds on Tuesday.
Amy Novikoff, 62, of Great Neck, said she drove from her parents’ home in Melville to vote, eyeing her gas gauge all the way. Novikoff and her husband were forced from their home after they lost power.
Despite only having a half-tank of gas left, Novikoff said she was determined to cast her ballot for Obama.
“There is no question in my mind I wasn’t voting,” she said.
Novikoff said she hadn’t been aware of the existence of affidavit voting, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo instituted for all displaced New Yorkers.
“I would have voted with my elderly parents in Melville,” Novikoff said.
Tuesday marked Eytan Zarabi’s first time voting. The 18-year-old Hofstra University freshman said Sandy didn’t deter him from casting his first ballot, but it did keep his mother from voting.
His mother, who recently became a citizen, had planned to register to vote, but scrapped the plans during her preparations for Sandy.
“When Sandy came on top of that, she was like, ‘Forget it — I’ll do it next time,’” Zarabi said.
He said many people in his family don’t vote, thinking that their votes won’t make a difference. But Zarabi said he wants to change that by setting an example for his younger cousins.
“It’ll make an impact,” he said.
-- JENNIFER BARRIOS
UPDATED 6:01 P.M.
Sandy victims trek to vote at parish
An American Red Cross disaster relief van dispensed hot meals, juice and milk outside Sacred Heart Parish in Island Park, where scores of people hardest hit by superstorm Sandy voted Tuesday afternoon.
Voters gathered in clusters around the parish auditorium, which also featured a basketball hoop, an elevated stage and a table stocked with supplies for Mass. An image of Jesus on a cross with an enlarged heart and another of him standing with outreached arms, also with an enlarged heart, greeted voters inside and outside the auditorium.
Al and Karen Carford walked a mile from Harbor Isle to make it to the lone polling site in Island Park.
Their home took on 4 to 6 feet of water. The boiler, couch, cabinets, a music collection of records from the 1950s to the 1970s, and the couple’s two cars — destroyed.
Al Carford, 63, a hearing officer for social security disability claims, said he was compelled to show up at the polls by civic duty.
“People voted under a lot worse conditions,” he said. “Guys in combat vote.”
While Carford declined to disclose who he voted for, he admonished President Barack Obama for campaigning instead of visiting Long Island.
“He should be walking the boardwalk at Long Beach and the areas that have been damaged,” he said.
Karen Carford, 62, an executive secretary, said she was a conservative Democrat who has not changed her Republican Party registration since age 18.
Carford said she was turned away from voting at first because she didn't have a driver's license with her, but finally was able to vote. She voted for Obama.
“He hasn’t been the cause of the problems, he inherited them,” she said. “Republicans haven’t helped him achieve his goals.”
“I really hate Romney, because the man is a liar,” she said.
Poll worker Chelsey Lindsay said that the polling site “actually got a lot of people.”
“Nobody has a car around here,” she said. “Everybody is walking, even elderly people.”
Those who did drive were often met by detours, especially on Long Beach Road.
The voting process also was temporarily hampered by generator-powered scanners that lost electricity for about an hour in the morning, Lindsay said.
Deicy Cerquin, of Island Park, who declined to give her age, came to the poll site with her 75-year-old mother, two of her own children and two others between the ages of 5 and 8 years old.
They had visited a site across from Francis X. Hegarty Elementary School first, which had a sign directing voters to the parish.
The group walked eight blocks. “We went out with the kids because to keep them at home, inside they get so bored, and it’s colder inside than outside,” she said.
Cerquin’s basement was flooded and her home has no electricity, no gas and no heat. A friend in Rockville Centre plans to give her family shelter for the upcoming nor’easter.
Voting, she said, was mandatory in her home country of Peru. “Besides, we’re not doing anything at the house,” she said. “We feel patriotic. We have to do it so our votes count as an immigrant.”
Later, Cerquin said she voted a strictly Democratic ticket. She appreciated Obama’s Dream Act policy for undocumented immigrant children attending college, she said.
“My husband was in this country for 25 years and he just got his resident papers,” she said. “He couldn’t get a better job because of that.”
Debbie Gigante, a 52-year-old “domestic goddess” from Island Park, came to vote despite having 3 feet of water in her house.
“Everything is gone,” she said, adding that she copes without heat, gas or electricity by sitting near a fireplace and lighting candles.
“I’m a camper, we’ll get by,” she said. “We came to vote for Obama.”
Gigante said she voted for John McCain in the last presidential election because she was upset that Hillary Clinton was not the Democratic nominee.
She said she was not impressed by Mitt Romney. “I don’t trust the man,” she said. “He lost all my respect with the 47 percent comment.”
“He’s an elitist,” Gigante said of Romney. “I can’t stomach the guy.”
-- LAUREN R. HARRISON
UPDATED: 5:25 P.M.
First-time voter supports third-parties
Neither Democrat or Republican. That was the decision of first-time voter Nick Garcia, who was displaced from his Freeport apartment due to Sandy’s aftermath.
Garcia, 26, a student whose basement apartment was destroyed in the storm, temporarily relocated to his girlfriend’s apartment in another part of Freeport. Despite his hardship, Garcia walked to the Bayview Avenue School of Arts and Sciences in Freeport to cast his first vote.
“The hurricane changed my outlook on voting,” said Garcia, adding he opted to vote for third-party candidates instead of the two main party lines. “Before I didn’t see the point, but now I appreciate the chance to voice my opinion.”
Kristen Fagan, of East Rockaway, voted through an affidavit ballot at the Freeport elementary school, after not knowing what to expect at her usual polling place in East Rockaway. Fagan, who has no power at home, assumed it was closed due to storm damage, she said.
“I thought they were very accommodating,” said Fagan, 31, a guidance counselor, who voted for Republican Mitt Romney, even though she voted for Barack Obama in 2008. “They took care of me.”
For Keith Morrison, of Freeport, voting was a family affair. Morrison went to vote with his mother and sister.
“I voted for Barack Obama,” said Morrison, 34, a security guard. “He has been doing a decent job so far.”
The opinion was shared by Marsille Debrosse, 36, of Freeport, a nurse, who voted straight down the Democratic Party line for Obama and State Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper.
“I feel he would likely help the middle class,” Debrosse said. “It’s only been four years. Give him a chance.”
-- Aisha Al-Muslim
UPDATED 4:22 P.M.
Korean War vet casts his vote
UPDATED 3:56 P.M.
Man votes despite his gas being stolen
The effects of superstorm Sandy were apparent at Longwood Junior High in Middle Island, where about 15 displaced voters staying with local residents cast ballots by midafternoon.
“We not only have to deal with the voting issues but displaced residents who need to vote here,” said Erna Rowe, voting coordinator at the site.
Rowe said the lingering effects of Sandy were highlighted when one distraught voter walked in and talked about his ordeal earlier in the day. The man said he had filled his gas tank at two separate stations in the morning, only to have it siphoned out minutes later while he was parked at a nearby Walmart, according to Rowe. The man voted and then called a friend for a ride home, Rowe said.
Meanwhile, confusion reigned at the school’s front entrance, as voters encountered locked doors — school was in session — without any directions as to where to go. Security guards and others gave voters conflicting directions on where to go; voting was being conducted in another building on the campus about 300 yards behind the front entrance.
One of those who made it back to the poll was Michele Kilkenny, 46, of Ridge.
“I know it’s going to be a tight race. I’m tired of hearing about it,” she said.
Kilkenny, who voted for Obama, said she didn’t discuss politics with her friends before the election because, “It’s not a good topic if you want to remain friends.”
She rode to the voting site with her friend, Eliana Wishnevsky, 33, of Ridge.
“It’s important for everyone to vote,” said Wishnevsky, who also voted for Obama.
— Deon J. Hampton
UPDATED 3:40 P.M.
Long lines to vote in Plainview
Voters waited in a long line Tuesday afternoon at a makeshift polling place at the Mid-Island Y Jewish Community Center in Plainview that snaked through several rooms and out the door.
The word “vote” with arrows was drawn on dry erase boards pointing the way.
Many said they didn’t mind the wait, which was about 20 minutes Tuesday afternoon, and joked to each other that precious fuel could also be found at the end of the line.
“This is the time of lines,” said Iva Kravitz, 65, of Plainview.
Kravitz said she cast a ballot to re-elect President Barack Obama.
“Better to have a devil you know than a devil you don’t know,” she said.
Poll workers said at least one of the optical scanners at the site was down and Board of Election workers would be by that night to pick up that district’s ballots.
Harvey Staub, 57, of Plainview, who owns a drugstore, said he voted for Mitt Romney and for John McCain in 2008 despite being a “lifelong Democrat.”
“The economy is the most important issue, the debt,” he said, adding of Obama, “I knew he wasn’t going to do the job.”
Staub commended neighbors who had come out to vote after Sandy.
“We didn’t do it despite the storm, we did it in spite of the storm to show what we stand for,” he said.
Allen B. Zilbert said he and his family still did not have electricity at their Plainview home.
“Hopefully, by some miracle it’ll be on tonight,” said Zilbert, 55, a chief information officer for an online university.
He said his family has gotten through the cold night with “lots of layers.”
Zilbert said he voted for Obama as he did in the last presidential election.
“He took over a situation that was really difficult,” he said. “I don’t expect a person to clean that up after four years.”
There were already signs of economic improvement during Obama’s term, such as the stock market being up, Zilbert said.
-- Emily Ngo
UPDATED 3:25 P.M.
Different views on New Hyde Park voting place
Vincent Sauchelli stood outside of New Hyde Park Road School and offered directions to a displaced young woman.
Essentially, he said, “Walk three blocks,” and turn around. It wasn’t until the 82-year-old Korean War vet cracked a wide smile that she realized he was joshing. The entrance was right in front of them.
Sauchelli said getting there was more complicated than it should have been. It felt like he’d walked “a mile” in the site’s building, he said, before he found his polling station.
On Election Day, Sauchelli is accustomed to just a short walk. He lives a block from New Hyde Park’s Village Hall, his usual polling place. But voting was held at the school, a few blocks from home. Though he drove, classes were in session Tuesday, and Sauchelli, who is diabetic and walks with a cane, had to contend with limited parking. Eventually, he snagged a reserved spot in front.
He said he was peeved at having to “walk the length of the building” to find the polls, and that he was given little notice of the site’s location change. His wife showed up at Village Hall earlier.
Sauchelli said he was there to support Mitt Romney for president, and candidates from the New Hyde Park area, such as Nassau County Court Judge David Sullivan, up for re-election, and congressional candidate Frank Scaturro.
At the polling location, things were “flowing very quickly,” said coordinator Cathy Leonard.
“By far this is one of the busiest days for a presidential election,” she said.
Some voters worried about the legitimacy of the votes they cast after an optical scanner failed to read them.
Husband and wife Mary and Arthur Mikowski, both 69 and of New Hyde Park, said after they filled out their ballots, the optical scanner wouldn’t recognize them. So, an election official deposited their ballot in a folder elsewhere in the machine.
“I just hope the right person counts it,” Mary Mikowski said.
“I didn’t like it,” Arthur Mikowski said. “I don’t know what they’re going to do with those things.”
Leonard acknowledged a few technical difficulties, but said for the most part things were running smoothly.
She recalled an emotional encounter earlier in the day, when a Long Beach woman who “lost everything” broke down and cried.
“She made it her business to vote,” Leonard said. “It was moving.”
— Scott Eidler
UPDATED 3:21 P.M.
Man drives from Brooklyn to vote, no luck so far
UPDATED 3:15 P.M.
Nassau official: ‘Signifcant amount’ of ballot scanner problems
Nassau Democratic elections Commissioner William Biamonte said there have been a “significant amount” of ballot scanner problems across the county.
Part of the reason, he said, is heavy turnout. “It’s significant,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we are having so many problems.”
He said there were long lines at newly centralized polling sites in Long Beach and in communities with higher minority populations such as Hempstead, Lakeview, Roosevelt, Uniondale and Elmont.
“When a machine goes down,” Biamonte said, “people are given a special emergency ballot. There is an emergency drawer in the machine that holds 200 ballots. At the end of the night, they scan the ballots at the polling place. Nobody’s ballot won’t be counted.”
Suffolk Board of Elections officials report no scanner problems.
— Bill Bleyer
UPDATED 3:02 P.M.
Portable generator helps make vote happen in Bellmore
Light bulbs on a long yellow electrical cord connected to a portable generator welcomed voters outside the polling site at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore — a sign the building has been without power since Sandy hit.
A generator also lit the school’s hallways leading to the voting area and powered the optical ballot scanners. Inside the voting area in the cafeteria, light bulbs hung above voters as they cast their ballots. The cafeteria’s several large windows let daylight inside to make it easier to see the ballots and voters’ lists.
“It’s harder to see in there because the lights are very dim,” said Martina Jones, of Bellmore, a nurse, who said she voted for President Barack Obama. “The lines are not too long now, but I am anticipating later on would be slow and a problem.”
Frank Ventrone, 73, of Bellmore, a truck driver, said poll workers were slow but the lack of electricity in the facility did not interrupt the voting process. The registered conservative said the economy and the war in Afghanistan were his main concerns.
“It’s time to bring our young men and women home,” Ventrone said.
Chris Scheno, 43, of Bellmore, an optometrist, said voting at the site without power was a smooth process, even though the lights were dim. Scheno said he voted for Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney, because Scheno is a small-business owner and believes they can help improve the economy.
“I had to plan ahead how I would come vote,” said Scheno, citing the gas shortage. He is staying in Seaford with his mother because he has no power at his home. “I took advantage of being out to run other errands.”
Before heading to the polling place, Carl Fisher, 64, of Bellmore, waited on a gas station line for an hour to fill up, so he could travel to the school. Fisher said he is temporarily staying in North Merrick because he has no power.
“I’m voting Democrat all across,” said Fisher, a retired teacher. “How can any women vote for Romney or a party who is trying to tell them what to do with their own bodies?”
— Aisha Al-Muslim
UPDATED 2:15 P.M.
Smithtown resident: Presidential candidates ‘dumb and dumber’
Pat Callegari, 68, of Smithtown walked out of her polling place still unsettled about the decision she made while inside.
"It's between dumb and dumber, frick and frack," she said about the presidential candidates. "This was the hardest election ever."
She voted for Mitt Romney because she disagreed with some of the decisions President Barack Obama had made, like bailouts for large corporations and his health care plan.
Lisa Sisino, 53, of Smithtown, echoed her sentiments.
"I really don't trust any politicians," she said. "But I think Romney was the lesser of two evils. I just hope he does what he says."
Rick Hein, 50, of Smithtown didn't disclose who he voted for, but said it was important for him to get out there. Unaware that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's executive order allowing those displaced by Sandy to vote at any polling station applied to Long Islanders, Heins drove from Westbury, where he and his elderly, ailing father were staying with a friend.
He was worried about finding gas to get back to Westbury, but still glad he made it to the polls.
"In order to be [angry] at somebody, you have to cast a vote," he said. "I was certainly not impressed with either side, but you have to pick a side."
-- Erin Geismar
UPDATED 2:04 P.M.
Long Beach resident finds voting easy in Amityville
Bill Alesi, 68, a retired salesman displaced from his Long Beach home by Sandy, voted at Park Avenue Elementary School in Amityville.
Alesi evacuated before the storm and took refuge with a niece.
He said he voted “conservative straight across” because of his philosophy of the Constitution: “I think our founding fathers knew what they were talking about,” he said. While most Republican candidates are “strict Constitutionalists,” he said, “Democrats and liberals want to rewrite the Constitution.”
Voting in Amityville via provisional ballot was easy, he said, a relief with so much uncertainty in his life. “I haven’t seen my house in a long time,” he said.
Grace Eickelberg, 26, of Amityville, who works in human resources for an architecture firm there, voted Republican “across the board” except in the Babylon Town supervisor’s race, where she voted for Democrat Rich Schaffer, chiefly on the recommendation of her boyfriend’s mother, who works for the town and praised Schaffer’s work.
Eickelberg said she grew up in a conservative household with a dentist father whose experience owning a small business informed her vote.
“I know this election matters, for taxation, Medicaid, Medicare,” she said.
Although her Unqua Place home is unliveable after flooding and she’s had to stay elsewhere in the area temporarily, she said she was never unsure whether she would vote this year.
“I hold the right to vote and I’m very proud to be an American,” she said. “If I can have any type of pull or push, I wanted to make sure to do that.”
— Nicholas Spangler
UPDATED 1:47 P.M.
Long Beach residents vote in Massapequa
At Massapequa High School, where classes were in session to make up for time lost in the storm’s immediate aftermath, one optical scanner was down, though poll workers said they had called it in and the Nassau County Board of Elections would be by later to pick up the ballots.
About 1,000 voters had already been through the gym as of 1:30 p.m., some of them displaced Long Beach residents, poll workers said.
A poll worker who declined to be identified said many people were voting by affidavit and though she could not estimate how many, she said the number was, “More than ever before.”
— Emily Ngo
UPDATED 1:38 P.M.
Woman says she would vote ‘if I had to swim here’
Lines moved quickly in the gym of Ames School in Massapequa, a last-minute replacement polling place for another school damaged by the storm. The site was packed Tuesday with voters from the South Shore region that was among the hardest hit on Long Island.
In addition to the official orange signs announcing the polling place change, a file folder with “VOTE HERE” written on it in red marker was taped to the gym doors.
Poll workers said hundreds of voters had come by as of noon and that things were running smoothly.
Neighbors stopped each other outside the polls to catch up and swap stories about Sandy’s aftermath. Many were accompanied by children who were out of school for a seventh day because of the storm.
Sandy, however, could not keep Pat Chiesa, 60, of Massapequa, a nurse, away from the polls.
“If I had to swim here, I would have been here,” she said.
The troubled economy and the lack of jobs “motivated” her to vote, she said, though Chiesa would not say for whom she voted.
Chiesa said that though her home was undamaged, she had spent the last week cleaning out her mother’s home, which she said was “totaled.” Her sister, who also lives in southern Massapequa, “is living in half a house” and afraid to leave it for fear of looters.
“Everyone south of Merrick [Road] is a disaster," said Chiesa’s husband, Jim, 62, a retired stockbroker.
“It’s sad to see your possessions be put back in the trash,” Pat Chiesa said.
Alice Azoulay, 46, of Massapequa, brought her son, Mikey, 8, a third-grader, who said he was glad to again be out of school.
School being closed, Alice Azoulay said, “affects me because I’m a substitute teacher and I’m not getting paid.”
She wouldn’t say who she voted for, but said of the candidates and their campaigns, “I see a lot of B.S., so we don’t know what to believe.
“Whoever’s in office now I’m more familiar with .?.?. but we don’t want it to get any worse,” she said of the economy.
— Emily Ngo
UPDATED 1:31 P.M.
Fire Island residents vote in Bay Shore
Tekla Vanderblas evacuated Fire Island more than a week ago before superstorm Sandy hit, decimating the storied beach community. On Election Day, she was at Bay Shore Middle School working as a Republican election judge, ensuring her neighbors could exercise their right, while earning some much needed money.
“I’m so underemployed,” said the 57-year-old artist. “I’m glad to have a day of work.”
She hasn’t been back to Ocean Beach, the Fire Island village where she lives, but is hopeful her house survived. She’s staying in the Bronx with friends until she gets word from officials that it’s safe to return.
Vanderblas, who left her car parked in Brightwaters to conserve gas, traveled from the Bronx via two buses and the Long Island Rail Road, and when she got to the Babylon station, she took another bus to get her car and then drove to the polling place.
With most of Fire Island decimated after Sandy, the beach community’s Ocean Beach polling place was moved to Bay Shore Middle School, where about 54 Fire Island residents had voted by 11:30 a.m., she said.
“It’s been very steady,” she said.
Carl Dahl lives on the Kismet section of Fire Island, a place he hasn’t been since he evacuated the day before Sandy struck.
“I’m going back tomorrow,” he said, after casting his ballot for Republican Mitt Romney at Bay Shore Middle School. “It seems to be OK.”