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In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the super storm has left a trail of devastation across the eastern seaboard and parts of the Midwest. The storm has come and gone, bringing torrential rains and winds that have thrown the lives of hundreds of thousands into disarray. Schools are only now just re-opening in parts of the country. People are returning to work in lower Manhattan for the first time in a week, and parts of the tri-state area are still without power.
What is the one thing that isn’t necessarily on everyone’s minds but should be? The Presidential election this Tuesday, November 6. Schools will open for students returning in New York City, but that does not account for those schools and areas still affected by the storm. Worse yet, those schools and other public buildings are also where voting for the elections will take place.
The problem is rapidly becoming how to get the information out to people regarding where to vote if their designated location is flooded, closed or damaged beyond repair. Even if people wanted to vote at the new locations, how would they know? Those without power cannot watch the news or hear the radio for updates. The storm could have not only damaged a voting site, but also the residential homes in which voters live; voters may still be displaced.
On top of this, New York City, resilient as it may be, is slowly recuperating after an attack of uncontrollable strength. There are priorities in the minds of the East Coast habitants other than voting for the Presidential election. Concerns range from mile-long gas lines, food and water shortages, to housing problems. Shelters are being opened in schools, but are only available to the public until school starts this week. With all of this on residents’ minds, how much of a priority can you expect the election to be in comparison to feeding a family and making the two or three-hour commute between boroughs to get to work?
As of November 5, trains between lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn waterfront are now running with delays. Railroads are running with delays, and the NJ Path and Long Beach branch of the Long Island Rail Road are still suspended. Both the Battery and Lincoln tunnels are suspended as well. The G train is currently suspended, and the 7 train has only just returned to service this weekend. However, many bus routes have shorter lines now that driving restrictions have been lifted to and from Manhattan.
Still, there is little to no gas for cars to get moving. How does someone go to work knowing that there is damage to his or her house from the storm, never mind worrying about voting? The looting of homes and cars has increased in the aftermath of the storm, but will hopefully decrease as power is returned to the outlying areas of southern Brooklyn. That said, it is reported that some two million residents are still without power in the U.S. due to the storm, and the cold weather is coming in fast. With temperatures dipping into the 30s this week and possible rain, snow and showers come into the mix. Patience is in short supply and worries are on the rise for what seems to be yet another week of setbacks.
These are the kind of issues that plague the minds of residents hardest hit by the storm. Private households and small businesses in the Tri-state area, each in their own communities, have come out to offer help to their fellow residents. Corporations such as PepsiCo have stepped into the spotlight to send relief in the form of food and beverages, no doubt hoping to also build good brand support. But what can be done for the voting public as of now?
Those that still want to vote need to get the word out. If you have internet, radio or television, tell your neighbors. Tell your friends and family. Make sure that those who wish to vote know how, and that they have choices and options. Those that need to know where their voting sites have been re-located to can text “NYCVOTES” to 877-877 or “Donde” to the same number in Spanish.
For those who cannot reach their designated polling places, they are encouraged to go to their local Board of Elections Building. The Board of Elections buildings for each borough is as follows:
Bronx: 1780 Grand Concourse, 5th floor
Brooklyn: 345 Adams Street, 4th floor
Manhattan 450 West 33rd Street, 10th floor (temporary BOE office)
Queens: 126-06 Queens Boulevard, Kew Gardens
Staten Island: 1 Edgewater Plaza, 4th floor
Make no mistake: The immediate and most urgent priority is to take care of family and friends. Food and shelter are absolute necessity for young children and toddlers. It cannot be said enough though, that if all of the essentials are secured, if you and your family have food, water and power, please vote. The future of our nation, not just for the next few weeks, but for the next four years, hangs in the balance. Make sure your voice is heard, and support your presidential candidate.