Polling places around the lake were doing a brisk business all day long. One reason; it’s a presidential election and according to veteran poll worker Charlie Squires, “presidential elections are always busy.”
But then there is that other reason—Sandy. The super storm, that is already a week and a day old, is still wreaking havoc with daily life as most of Hopatcong, large parts of Mount Arlington and some areas of Jefferson are still without power. Because of the power outages, polling places have been moved and condensed or both.
In Jefferson, the 14 voting districts were squeezed into two locations, Camp Jefferson and the senior center.
“It’s been hectic,” said Robert Mitchko, a 23-year veteran election worker from Lake Hopatcong. “On a normal day it’s hectic. With six districts together it’s even more hectic,” he added.
In Mt. Arlington, all four districts were jammed into the log cabin, also known as the Civic Center. The day started with four voting machines but quickly added two more to ease the congestion. By 3 PM Tuesday, 1,575 voters had cast their ballots.
In Hopatcong, the high school and the municipal building were the only two locations available for voting. Eight districts were assigned to the high school, which ran the voting machines via a generator and four at the municipal building, which got power back just in time for voting. By 2 PM Tuesday, 3200 voters had cast their votes in Hopatcong.
“It’s running very smoothly here and at the municipal building,” said Cathy Gleason, the municipal clerk for Hopatcong.
Not all the voters at these sites were residents. Each voting location reports hosting voters from as far away as Maryland, including people from Ocean, Bergen, and Warren counties. People from surrounding towns like Budd Lake, Bayonne, Mendham, Long Valley and Roxbury also voted outside their own home towns.
Louis Casgiglia, a resident of Succasunna, came in in a wheelchair, just released from the Shelter Care at St. Clare’s Hospital/Dover General. Without a place to go because of the storm, he will spend time and get care at the Red Cross shelter at Hopatcong High School. Before checking into the shelter, his sister-in-law, Donna Casgiglia, brought him to the other side of the school so he could vote.
“He’s always on oxygen, that’s why he went to Dover General after the storm,” said Casgiglia of her brother-in-law, who lives in Flanders. “But they needed the bed so we had to take him out. I don’t have power so I can’t take him in and all the other family members have houses that he can’t get around in. We had no other choice but to bring him here.”
Grace Rhinesmith, Jefferson Twp., director of recreation, directs traffic in the parking lot of Camp Jefferson.
Glenn Seney, left, signs the registration voter book at Camp Jefferson.
Ishaad Khan, an election worker in another town, puts an "I Voted" sticker on his shirt after he cast his vote at Camp Jefferson.
Robert Mitchko, left, helps a resident get to the voting booth.
Gregory Levine holds her daughter high enough for her to press the buttons on the voting machine at Camp Jefferson.
Election worker, Pamela Agatino from Mount Arlington, takes voting tickets and keeps the line moving.
Jayden Perretti, 2, right, peers from behind a voting maching at Hopatcong High School.