Written by Courtney Gross
November 1, 2012
On Election Day, some voters in the Rockaways were supposed to cast their votes at a devastated branch of the Queens Public Library. The Board of Elections is now trying to assess the damage.
“Across the city, we have our staff visiting the different poll sites, making sure they will be able to be open for our voters on Tuesday,” said J.C. Polanco, the commissioner of the New York City Board of Elections. “Obviously, some of these poll sites will not be able to be used. Sometimes, we’re gonna have to combine some of those.”
Officials at the Board of Elections say there are more than 100 polling places located in Zone A areas, such as at PS 146 in Howard Beach. Their first floor was under water, and they are still without power.
Nowhere could it have more of an impact than in State Sen. Joe Addabbo’s race for re-election.
“This district is devastated,” Addabbo said. “As far south as you go from Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Broad Channel, Rockaway, certainly Breezy, it’s devastation.”
Addabbo represents those areas, which are among the hardest hit by Sandy. He also has a tough competitor in City Councilman Eric Ulrich. It’s a race in which every vote will count, and it’s unclear if the constituents will be able to vote.
“That picture will probably become more clear in the next couple of days,” Addabbo said. “That’s where certainly, the Board of Elections will have to take into account our electricity, the amenities and the sites themselves, which are probably sitting in water.”
But officials at the board insist they will be prepared.
“As far as changing the election date, that’s up to the state legislature and the governor,” Polanco said. “It’s really not up to us at the Board of Elections. We will, however be ready to execute whatever they decide and on Tuesday, working with the State OEM and the Mayor’s office and OEM, we are going to assure that Tuesday’s gonna be a successful day for us at the board.”
Back in Queens, neither Addabbo nor Ulrich is in campaign mode.
Addabbo is surveying the damage. His campaign office is soaked, and the water line is still visible on the wall.
The cleanup is the first order of business, with the election a distant item on the list.