Polling Stations Not Immune to Hurricane Sandy’s Wrath

Most Rockland sites without power and phone service in advance of Tuesday’s election


Rockland County Elections Commissioner Louis Babcock said 68 of the county’s 80 polling sites did not have electricity or phone service as of mid Thursday afternoon.

“We’re having some issues as you can imagine,” said Babcock.

He said they have asked the New York State Board of Elections to provide 68 generators, supplies of gas and diesel to operate the generators, five miles of extension cords, 240 power strips and 340 lights for polling locations that do not have power.  But the list does not stop there.

“We’ve also asked for some large tents from the National Guard in case something is not usable because of flooding,” said Babcock. 

The difficulties facing the county in getting ready for Tuesday’s election are not limited to the polling locations only.  The trucking company that typically moves the county’s voting machines from their warehouse in Pomona cannot get their vehicles out of New York City up to Rockland. 

Babcock said voting would take place whether or not the generators arrive to power the voting machines.  If they are not available, Babcock said voters will use paper ballots and clerks will have to feed them through the machines.  The board of elections has the paper ballots.  Each machine has an emergency ballot box, which will be emptied into a locked container to be counted by hand.  

Babcock said the 80 polling stations, which represent 275 election districts will be set up.  He noted that final election results could be delayed because of the situation.

“We are going to do our absolute best that all of the sites people are used to going to are open,” he said, adding that in some cases tents may be used instead of the buildings. 

Efforts are continuing almost around the clock to get the locations as ready as possible and will go on through the weekend.  According to Babcock, the election sites are on Orange & Rockland’s priority list for power restoration. He said progress was being made as he had just received confirmation that three locations in the Clarkstown School District have electricity again.


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