TEANECK, New Jersey – Campaign signs and posters littered the streets of Bergen
County, New Jersey, tossed there not by angry supporters of the opponent but
instead by a howling storm – Hurricane Sandy, which hit the area last week,
leaving death and destruction in its wake.
Confusion reigned in many
parts of New York and New Jersey over the past few days, as polling stations
were moved due to damage or power outages, and voters scrambled to stay up to
date on where to go.
The governors of both New York and New Jersey said
voters could cast provisional ballots anywhere within the state – not just
within their district – on Election Day. But such measures only allow for voters
to select candidates in the presidential race between US President Barack Obama
and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, and statewide races for governor or
senator, but not in congressional or local elections.
In addition, New
Jersey Gov. Chris Christie instituted measures to allow email and fax
voting for residents affected by the storm, a measure usually only extended to
overseas voters. Early in-person voting was also allowed in New Jersey on
Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Within New York City, more than 60 polling
locations were relocated, in addition to 40 others across the state. New Jersey
had to move hundreds of polling stations to new buildings, 152 of them within
Bergen County alone. The county disseminated information online, and made
repeated phone calls to homes on Monday with the updated list. As of Tuesday
morning, the state’s gas and utility company reported 272,700 customers still
without power. Also Tuesday morning, ConEd – the energy company that provides
power to New York City – said they still had approximately 118,000 customers
At one provisional polling station in Teaneck, seven of
the town’s districts – instead of the usual one or two – were asked to report to
one building, creating more uncertainty as to the correct room and booth voters
should head to. Voting station changes were also posted around town at local
coffee shops and supermarkets, but some residents remained confused.
person on the phone was speaking very fast,” said one Teaneck voter, who asked
to remain anonymous and who has yet to have her Internet restored since the
“It was very difficult to understand. I would have liked to
see more personnel outside,” she added, standing outside the city’s Hawthorne
Middle School, a provisional polling station, after casting her
Another Teaneck resident, Bernard Suskewicz, said that “the town
was very good about communicating” the polling changes, both online and over the
Susan Wertentheil, a resident of Englewood, also in Bergen County,
who voted at the Ahavath Torah synagogue after polling was relocated there from
a senior center, said she was able to locate the new station with no
Those who made it to the polls mostly said that the economy was
their priority when selecting candidates.
“I would like to see the
economy improve,” said the anonymous Teaneck voter. “I like Obama tremendously
but I’m not that convinced that he has a grip on the economy.”
said that Israel was important to her, it was not an issue when voting. “I
personally think Obama is very pro-Israel and what we read in the media doesn’t
necessarily reflect that.”
“I think Obama has
been given a bad rep, especially in the Orthodox [Jewish] community,” he said.
“I think he is a true friend of Israel and has Israel’s back.”
Suskewicz, the economy was still the number one campaign issue.
economy is hurting and we can’t forget the most needy among us,” he said. “The
only person and the only party who’ll address that is Obama and the
But in Englewood, Wertentheil had a different set of
“I’m looking for somebody who’s going to be good for America
and also good for Israel,” she said. “Not necessarily in that order.”