Complicating matters further was the state’s recent switch to electronic voting machines and the 2010 legislative redistricting that put many residents into new polling precincts.
‘‘You couldn’t pick a more perfect storm — a hurricane before a presidential election, a redistricting year, and new machines,’’ Polanco said.
The efforts put a premium on creativity. At a public school in Staten Island’s Midland Beach, flares were set up at an entrance to provide light, and voting machines were retrieved from the school and moved to tents where voters lined up in 29-degree temperatures.
Not everyone hurt by the storm saw voting as a priority.
New Jersey college student Cynthia Barreau was flooded out of her Toms River home and stood in a long line outside a FEMA processing center in Brick Township.
‘‘I’m thinking a lot of people are not going to vote today; I just don’t see it happening,’’ she said. ‘‘We don’t have homes. The last thing on our minds today is looking for a place to vote.’’
Fouhy reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Geoff Mulvihill and Wayne Parry in New Jersey, John Christoffersen in Connecticut, Vicki Smith in West Virginia, and Frank Eltman, Jim Fitzgerald and Christina Rexrode in New York contributed to this story.