Inside Politics

Despite Sandy, few voting issues in Ocean Co.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Backup plans for Election Day were put into motion after Hurricane Sandy hit Ocean County. By Tuesday afternoon, it seemed those plans were working.

Action News was at the Hooper Avenue School in Toms River, which is normally a polling place for the surrounding community. This year, however, it was also the polling place for communities such as Lavallette, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park.

Since voters in those barrier island communities were displaced, they were sent to the Toms River school to vote.

There was a steady stream of voters but no long lines there.

Among those voters was 101-year-old Mary Leonardi of Long Beach Township. Because of Sandy, she is staying with her daughter.

She cast her vote by provisional ballot at a polling place in Barrington.

"I survived the hurricane, and I was afraid I was going to miss this one," she said. "But, I'm here and I'm very happy you all allowed me to vote."

Mary cast her first vote at 21 years old, voting for Franklin Roosevelt for president and has not missed an election since.

As of Monday, it was estimated that some 4,000 to 6,000 people had already lined up at the Administration Center in Toms River and voted. Residents had been allowed to vote since Friday.

In some cases, they came because their coastal home was damaged.

"I'll vote this way, then I'll go back to New York State with my daughters and that's where we'll stay for the next few months until they get the island straightened out," said Richard Carroll of Seaside Park.

In other cases, their normal polling places were waterlogged or missing.

"Roads are blocked off, a lot of things are shut down, the power's out. I wanted to get a jump start early," said Tyshon Terry of Toms River.

Or, in the case of first responders, they had to take a moment between calls.

"This is my first time voting early," said Eddie Storino of the Toms River Fire Company. "We were on a call so we figured we'd jump in and do it."

Ocean County Authorities going out of their way to connect with voters. Two dozen polling places still without power, got generators. Meanwhile, a voting bus circulated to emergency shelters.

"About 175 polling locations will be open, some of those will have merged polling places - ones that couldn't open will be merged with others," said George Gilmore of the Ocean County Board of Elections.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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