New Jersey voters on Tuesday formed impatient lines amid rubble and rotting rubbish left by superstorm Sandy as election officials scrambled to be ready for the US presidential vote.
At Hoboken, one of the towns worst-hit by superstorm Sandy, one of the makeshift polling stations opened 40 minutes late at 6:40 am (1140 GMT). There were 60 people in the sharp morning chill surrounded by the debris.
“This is unacceptable, we have been here since six,” said Adora Agim, 38, a software engineer in the queue.
“Yesterday when I called the town clerk, they told me to go to my normal polling place.” She went to the designated school in the town on Tuesday morning and found a sign on the door saying it had moved to a community center for seniors. The flood damage was too great.
After the makeshift station opened, a volunteer came out and told the grumbling crowd: “Please excuse the appearance of this place, two days ago it was under two feet of water.”
Agim, a migrant from Nigeria who was backing President Barack Obama, said it was important to vote despite the troubles. “I have lived in a third world country where your vote does not matter,” she said.
John Margolis, a 46-year-old investment banker supporting Republican Mitt Romney, found that when he got in the electronic voting machine was not working. He was told to join another line to fill out a paper ballot. That queue was too long and he decided to return later in the day, perhaps enough time to change his mind about who to vote for.
“Fiscally I am 100 percent behind Romney, or I was until last week,” said Margolis who added that he had been impressed with the Obama administration’s response to the storm.
“It has been a long week in Hoboken, we only just got power yesterday,” he said, accepting the troubles taking part in democracy in New Jersey.
New Jersey is a Democratic bastion and should have no major impact on the result of the presidential election. But the government’s response could help swing voters elsewhere.
The northern half of New Jersey, and particularly Hoboken, suffered widespread storm damage when the storm hit on October 29. Hundreds of thousands of people remained without power on Tuesday and gasoline was rationed across much of the state.
Sandy, which began as a deadly hurricane in the Caribbean, pummeled 15 US states and prompted a huge tidal surge that killed at least 109 people in the United States and Canada and caused tens of billions of dollars worth of damage.