Thousands voting in tent at Rockaway supersite

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Hurricane Sandy forced eight poll sites to be combined into one in the Rockaways.THE COURIER/Photo by Billy Rennison
Hurricane Sandy forced eight poll sites to be combined into one in the Rockaways.

Superstorm Sandy relocated dozens of poll sites including eight in the Rockaways that were housed at a single “supersite” at P.S. 180 in Rockaway Park.

A tent was set up outside the school for the thousands of residents from throughout the peninsula who were funneled to the site.

Locals came from as far as three miles away, a far cry from the couple of blocks many residents are used to.

“It’s not perfect, it’s far, it’s outside and it’s dusty, but it hasn’t been too bad,” said Janet Doherty, who came from Arverne to vote.

Others were frustrated with the confusion, long lines and bouncing from site to site.

“I already was sent away from one site, and now they can’t find my name here,” said one voter as she waited on line at the information table.

“No one told me the site’s changed.  With all that’s been happening, how are we supposed to know,” said Marc Lillard.

The BOE did not contact individual voters instead relying on good government organizations and media to get word out.  Twenty-eight Queens poll sites were changed after the storm.

Approximately 1,800 showed up at the site as of 2:30 p.m. to vote, with thousands more expected at night.

The day got off to a bumpy start when the site’s generators had no gas leaving the tent without heat and lights, said John Bougiamas, an administrative associate with the Board of Elections.  Bougiamas said the location now has enough gas to last them until at least 9 p.m.

Many poll site workers were also unable to reach the new site forcing the BOE to hold a special training session yesterday and ship the newly trained workers to Rockaway.

“We run elections and we’re doing our best to run an election,” said Bougiamas.

As voters entered the tent they were sent to separate corners which housed each of the different election districts.

“All things considered things have run fairly smoothly,” said Elliot Harris, a volunteer at the site.

But Harris is worried about the conditions after nightfall.

“It’s going to be worse later.  It’s going to be colder, it’s going to be dark,” he said.  ”People don’t want to be walking around Rockaway when it’s dark.”