Verona and Cedar Grove are seeing a big turnout for the 2012 election, despite Hurricane Sandy power outages and gas shortages.
“It's been pretty busy, but not as busy as Bush vs. Kerry,” said Linda Cavrick, a poll worker at Verona High School. “With the confusion of the storm there are going to be a lot of absentee and mail-in ballots.”
Verona resident Tom Ferrell was surprised by how long the line was when he went to cast his vote at Brookdale Avenue School, he said.
“It's the most important election of our time,” said Verona resident Cathy Vail. “People's freedoms are more threatened now than they were four years ago. We have made great strides forward and I feel that some people may want to take us backward.”
One item on the Verona ballot was a question as to whether or not kindergarten students should have full school days. Superintendent Steven Forte said the district would support full school days if that is what voters decided.
“Most kids are used to a full day of school,” said Jessica Kirby who said she supported full day kindergarten classes. “A half day doesn't give teachers enough time to teach.”
Kirby voted at Verona High School to show her two sons the importance of voting.
“It's important to show kids that it's important to vote,” she said. “I also think that if I don't vote than I have no right to complain.”
Doreen Smith voted at Leonard R. Parks School in Cedar Grove this afternoon citing education, the economy, the environment and healthcare as her main concerns.
“I'm a woman and for a long time women couldn't vote so I am a firm believer in exercising my right to vote,” she said. “I typically vote in all presidential and local elections.”
While many polling stations were without power in New Jersey, the only local polling station that needed to be moved was F.N. Brown Elementary school in Verona. Voters instead cast their ballot at Verona High School.
Verona resident Anthony Dente had no trouble voting at Verona High School after he saw the sign at F.N. Brown, he said. Karen Castaldo saw the notice posted on the Verona website and received a message from Verona Police, she said.
“It was very well organized,” said Castaldo.
Verona dispatcher T.J. Conroy was posted outside of F.N. Brown to point voters in the right direction.
“Since about 8:30 a.m. about 50 people came by,” he said. “They either tried to get in the door and saw the sign or asked me where the polling station was.”
No matter who they voted for, Verona and Cedar Grove residents agree on the importance of this election.
Residents like Chandra Parekh of Cedar Grove and Beth Shust of Verona have voted in every local and presidential election.
“It's been a tough four years for people,” said Shust. “People are looking for hope and a better tomorrow.”