Long Island voters are casting their ballots for the next president Tuesday, but authorities are on heightened alert this Election Day following a reported threat of a terrorist attack at polling places.
Despite the threat, voters are expected to turn out in force to decide not only the next occupant of the White House, but also the Congressional and New York State legislative representatives. In addition to authorities keeping an eye out for voter intimidation and other irregularities, Nassau and Suffolk police both ramped up patrols at the polls in response to the threat, however minimal is may be.
“Although there is currently no credible threat to Suffolk County, I want to ensure the community that our officers have been instructed to closely monitor polling locations in order to protect our residents as they exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, who noted that both uniformed and plainclothes offices will be monitoring activity at the polls.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the region and nationwide are taking similar steps. Both Nassau and Suffolk police said they’ll be monitoring social media as well as coordinating with federal, state and local authorities. They urge anyone who spots suspicious activity to call 911.
The scare follows a particularly hostile campaign season, as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton—who’s vying to become the nation’s first female president—and her Republican rival, Donald Trump each accused one another of lying and being unfit to be president. Trump also repeatedly said the election system is “rigged” against him, suggesting—without evidence—widespread voter fraud. But now that the campaign is over and regardless of the threats, voters in Nassau and Suffolk are making their choices.
“I think the Clintons are completely dishonest,” John D’Angelo said outside of an East Islip polling station. “I think Trump can put us on a better path. I believe in his campaign.”
Some voters were less optimistic.
“I don’t think it’s going to make too much of a difference,” Joan, 85, who declined to give her last name, said outside of an Islip polling station, where she was “too embarrassed” to say for whom she cast her vote.
Some voters went against their party.
“I’m a republican but there was no way I was voting for Trump,” said Robert, 52, of East Meadow, who declined to give his last name. “He is the least qualified and least prepared candidate of all time.”
Republicans weren’t alone in ditching their party’s nominee.
“Up until I went in there, I didn’t know who I was voting for,” 64-year-old Mary Ann Jennings, a Democrat who voted Trump, said outside of a Levittown polling station.
Another voter at the same polls said he voted Democratic because he was concerned about “voter suppression.”
“It scares the all out of me,” said Doug, 59, who didn’t give his last name. “It’s been a rather toxic and poisonous” race, he added.
The New York State Attorney General’s office urged voters experiencing problems or issues at the polls to call their hotline at 800-771-7755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time when the polls are open Tuesday between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Voters complaining of possible election law violations can also call local federal prosecutors at 718-254-6323 or the FBI’s New York City office at 212-384-1000.
-With Rashed Mian, Jaime Franchi and Natalie Coloprisco