Residents: Voter Turnout May be Lower Due to the Hurricane

But a steady stream of people headed into the middle school to vote Tuesday morning.

Despite power outages throughout the township still, and many residents being sent to locations farther from their home, lots of people headed out Tuesday morning to make their vote count.

"It is your right as a United States citizen, let it be out there how you feel," said Sunset Lake resident Maria Patullo, who voted at the Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School, despite normally being sent to Hamilton Primary.

Hundreds of residents were sent to different polling locations Tuesday than they were used to because of power outages in many buildings in the township.

For Patullo, who said she was told she will get power back Wednesday, she has been staying with her mother in Somerset, and knew to go to the different location.

But, Patullo said, she wonders how many other residents who are staying out of town to beat the cold would drive all the way to Bridgewater while New Jersey is still rationing gas.

"I think it's lightening up though as more stations get power," she said. "I only waited 20 minutes in line the other day."

Debbie and Martin Conover, who normally vote at Hillside Intermediate School, said they traveled to the middle school from Washington Township where they are currently staying with relatives until power is restored.

They said they think there might be fewer people voting today than normal because of these kinds of circumstances.

"Especially those at the shore because they don't have the means to vote," Martin Conover said. "I do feel it will hurt the Republicans because instead of the news being about the elections, it has been all hurricane, at least on the east coast."

And Debbie Conover said she thinks the elections are the last thing some people are concerned about right now.

"I think turnout will be lower," she said. "Some lost everything, and this will not be prime on their minds."

Both said the lines were not long inside the middle school Tuesday morning, although there were a good number of people there as cars continued to approach the school near the 11 a.m. hour.

For most, the confusion over where to vote was also not prevalent, although resident James Mahoney said he heard conflicting information.

First, Mahoney said, he was told that he would be voting at the middle school instead of at Hillside, but, on Monday, he was told it was changed back to Hillside.

Hillside did regain power Monday, but the voting location could not be changed because it had already been submitted to the state.

"I went to Hillside, and the sign said to go to BRMS," Mahoney said. "I think turnout will probably be lower (from all this)."

As for Bridgewater turnout in previous presidential elections, in 2008, a total of 22,110 ballots were cast, out of 27,378 registered voters, for about 81 percent.

In 2004, 20,985 ballots were cast, out of 25,218 registered voters, or about 83 percent.

So voter turnout for presidential elections has been fairly stagnant recently.

"It is important to vote so you have a voice in what happens," Mahoney said,


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