Many NJ Voters Persevere to Get to Polls
Many people across New Jersey who lost their homes in last week's megastorm or are still without power went the extra mile, often literally, to get out and vote Tuesday.
Bob Mackie, 72, a retired executive of a metals distribution company, lives on Long Beach Island and has been staying with his daughter in Sayreville. He drove an hour each way to vote on the mainland in the Manahawkin section of Stafford. Even after arriving at the school where island voters were sent, it took another lap of the sprawling building to find the polling place in a rear gymnasium.
He declined to disclose his choice for president, but said the economy and health care are important issues to him. "A lot of people died for it, so we better exercise it," Mackie said of the right to vote.
In Bergen County, residents of Moonachie showed up to vote in the same gym where many were evacuated last week.
Joan Andrews fled her trailer by boat and National Guard truck to reach the safety of the Bergen County Vocational-Technical School in nearby Teterboro last Tuesday. By Election Day the flood waters had long since receded, but Andrews -- who still has no heat or hot water and lost two cars -- returned to the school, the first person off the shuttle bus organized by the town to get residents to the polls.
"I always have to vote, especially now," said Andrews, 68, a retired customer service agent. Many of her fellow flood victims were too overwhelmed to make time for voting, but Andrews said she'd encouraged her neighbors to make the time.
"It's the last thing on their minds but it should be number one because this is what's going to affect us in our future." At the shore, voters in Point Pleasant expressed relief and even elation at being able to vote.
"Oh my God, I have been so anxious about being able to vote," said Annette DeBona of Point Pleasant Beach. "It's such a relief to be able to do it. This is the happiest vote I ever cast in my life."
The 73-year-old restaurant worker was so worried about not being able to vote that she called the police department several days in advance, as well as her church, to make absolutely sure she knew where to go and when. She was one of the first to cast a ballot in her neighboring town, choosing Mitt Romney.
Not everyone was in a voting mindset, however.
In Hoboken, 76-year-old retired mechanic Anthony Morrone said he hasn't missed a vote since coming to the U.S. in the late 1960s. But other necessities were taking priority Tuesday.
"No time, no time to vote, too much to do," Morrone said, rattling off a list including mucking out the first floor, ripping out drywall, scooping Hudson River debris out of his driveway in a home a good quarter-mile from the river. "Too much going on," he added.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)