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Sandy Doesn't Slow Election Turnout in Bernards

Kids off from school and those who are home from work visit polls throughout the day.

Hurricane Sandy may have left about half of Bernards Township in the dark on Election Day, even a week after hitting the area, but even those without power found their ways to the polls to vote on Election Day.

At the Basking Ridge Firehouse, hosting extra voting districts closed due to power outages, poll worker Mary Jean Piorkowski said that she had overheard voters say they had driven home from the Carolinas — or Connecticut — just so they could be sure to cast a ballot.

Staffing the polls at the Liberty Corner firehouse, Cecilia Piorkowski, Mary Jean's sister, said that she believes the turnout may have even been a little better than usual due to people being off from work, or parents being home with children still off from school.

"It's been a good turnout," she said early on Tuesday afternoon. She said she figured about 50 people per hour were turning up to vote.

Her co-worker, Vance Hodnett said that the busiest time had been between 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., but that the distribution may have been spread out a little more with some people home from work.

As far as Sandy's impact, "Certainly, there's no less," he said. The first two hours people seemed especially rushed, he noted, but later during the day, people were entering the voting booth with their children, he added.

Tracy Olsen of Basking Ridge was one of those mothers who was giving her children — off from school after Sandy — a civics lesson at the voting booth.

"They need to know what it's like to vote," she said. "They're very excited."

But she did note they were telling her how to cast her ballot. "They have their opinion," she said.

Meanwhile, the Basking Ridge Firehouse was so busy that traffic spilled onto Washington Avenue, where police directed traffic.

Poll worker Lisa Keenan said 30 people or so had been lined up to vote when polls opened at 6 a.m. She also said she did not think that Sandy's impact had reduced voter turnout.

"We've been busy all day," she said on Tuesday afternoon.

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