Displaced LIers swell numbers at Riverhead polls

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Lines at the John Wesley Village polling place ran out the door Tuesday afternoon.

Election officials across Riverhead are reporting a high turnout this Election Day, matching and in some cases exceeding the turnout from the 2008 presidential election.

“At 5:30 this morning we had lines out the door,” said assistant election coordinator John McIntyre, at the polling place in John Wesley Village as residents shuffled forward in line to vote. “There has not been a minute where I could sit down.”

Part of the reason for the large voter turnout is the affidavit vote measure — approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo — that allows New York voters displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote at other polling places in the state.

Pat Womack, an election official at the polling place at Pulaski Street School, said “a lot of people from Nassau” had turned out to vote in Riverhead.

Turnout was up at the Riley Avenue School polling place as well, said election inspector and Calverton resident Hal Lindstrom. More than a dozen voters lined up in the hallway of the school to wait for their chance to vote.

Mr. Lindstrom said there have been more than a dozen displaced voters who have come to the polls in Calverton, adding that he thinks the turnout was helped by the storm’s power outages.

“People are getting cabin fever and if you don’t have enough gas to go somewhere else, you’ll come to vote,” he said.

Many voters across Riverhead said they had voted for President Barack Obama, arguing he was more qualified for the job, while others said they supported former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney because they believed he could jumpstart the slow economy.

“I feel that it takes a businessman to straighten out the economy,” said Rich Landers, who voted for Mr. Romney. His wife, Chris, joked that she “cancelled” his vote by choosing Mr. Obama.

“He stands true to what he says,” Ms. Landers said, adding that she valued Mr. Obama’s stance on women’s rights and health.

Anthony Quagliata said he supported Mr. Romney because the candidate was more in line with his religious views.

“As a Christian I believe voters should vote for whomever’s closer to Biblical principles,” Mr. Quagliata said.

The Congressional race for Democrat Tim Bishop’s seat in the House of Representatives marked a tougher decision for voters, according to several who said they struggled to choose between the two candidates.

Vincent Grassi said he voted for Republican businessman Randy Altschuler after “Bishop got a lot of bad publicity.” Others, like Riverhead resident Jean Hudson, said Mr. Bishop showed he deserved another term.

“I think he’s going a great job,” Ms. Hudson said.

Polling places across Riverhead will be open until 9 p.m. For more information on where your polling place is, click here.


Check back at 9 p.m. for our live election results log. We’ll have reporters at both the Suffolk County Republican and Democratic galas. We’ll keep up with the results as the precincts report them and we’ll add photos, video and color from the galas.

Tonight’s blog will be sponsored by Blackwells at Great Rock in Wading River and Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.