As the hours ticked away toward the end of Election Day, Republican Party volunteer Ann Lettis was calling residents in Staten Island to remind them to vote, and check if they needed a lift to a polling station. She volunteered dozens of times before, but never had so many problems getting a hold of people. She could thank Hurricane Sandy
“What was really sad was that a lot of the phone calls that I made, it said, ‘Not in service,’” said Lettis, 70. “And when you’re making so many phone calls, you would expect that every once in a great while. It was a little heartbreaking because you knew that if they were saying not in service, that they had to have been affected by the hurricane.”
Volunteers said the mood at the Staten Island Republican Party headquarters on Tuesday, Nov. 6 was a mix between confidence for the candidates and somberness for the community. Hurricane Sandy devastated several communities on the island the previous week, claiming 23 lives so far according to police. Little wonder that volunteers were concerned that voting would either not be feasible for some or no longer on people’s minds.
“You wonder, are they really going to be concerned right now when they don’t know where they’re going to be living tomorrow? It’s really pathetic and sad,” said Lettis, who lives in Great Kills.
The hurricane also affected volunteer numbers. Organizers from both major parties across the region reported some of the fewest amounts of volunteers in decades.
Bayonne New Jersey resident John Budnik, who has been volunteering since last May, was one of the dozen or so volunteers left at the headquarters that night. He, along with several otherts, noticed the decline.
“People are still dealing with cleaning up their houses, but there’s still people here. Maybe not as many, but there are still people coming out,” said Budnik, 37.