Shaken Staten Island Voters Take Opinions to Polls


Red Cross workers distribute supply to Staten Island locals after Sandy destroyed hundreds of homes on the island. Photo Credit: Yue Jiang

The polling site at Public School No. 52 on Staten Island was no more than a tent and a generator. It echoed the dismal landscape of the Midland Beach neighborhood, where ruined furniture and kitchenwares have been dumped in front of powerless, submerged houses.

Ashley Gilman walked out of the polling site at P.S. No. 52 early Tuesday morning, leaving to attend to her flooded house on Midland Beach that has lacked power since the Hurricane Sandy hit.

“I voted for Obama. Because I read on Facebook that Romney plans to cut money to FEMA,” Gilman said. “This influenced my vote because my house was affected and FEMA was the only thing that could help.”

A generator fuels power inside a makeshift voting station in Staten Island.
Credit: Yue Jiang

Gilman is among many voters in the hard-hit areas on Staten Island that are taking the tragic memory of Sandy to polling sites. The timing of the hurricane, which hit eight days before Election Day, is reinforcing voters’ choices on both sides that had been formed long before the storm.

Phyllis Villanti, whose house on Midland Beach did not survive the storm, is voting for Romney.

“Obama did a good job during the hurricane,” said Villanti, “but that’s what he’s supposed to do, so I’m not gonna change my vote.”

Frank Cseko, a New Drop Beach resident who is also voting for Romney, agrees. “I don’t think he is doing a bad job. Any reasonable people would do the same,” he said.

Margaret Schipani, who has worked at polling sites during the past seven election years, said this is the first time she’s seen tents substitute as voting centers.

“There was no light in the morning and we worked with flashlights,” she said. “But voters have been fantastic and understanding.  People are coming.”


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