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NYC Seemingly Unfazed by Election Security Challenges

  • Mary Alice Salinas

New York City officials are working with the Secret Service to bump up security as the city hosts the election night gatherings of both major presidential party candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

It is exceedingly rare for both major candidates to locate their headquarters in one city on election day. And New York is doing so at the end of one of the most caustic, divisive and bitter election cycles in recent memory.

There has been talk of potential voter intimidation at the polls, and some Trump supporters have threatened to revolt if their candidate loses.

Add to that, national and state officials are looking into intelligence that al-Qaida is planning a terror plot on or before the presidential poll.

Possible targets include New York, Virginia and Texas, officials said.

New York City officials say they are assessing the credibility of the threats and take the intelligence reports seriously. However, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said the threat was not new, and it was not clear how credible it is.

"We want to be clear from the outset New York City will never be intimidated—never by threats of terror nor by anyone who wants to disrupt our electoral process," he said alongside the NYPD commissioner and the US Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, speaking out against voter intimidation as well as threats of terrorism.

WATCH: Mayor De Blasio on security measures


All three men stressed that New York is uniquely prepared for this event, citing the U.N General Assembly meeting and the visit of the Pope as examples of times when the city was tested.

"We know that the eyes of the world will be on New York City," de Blasio said. "We have an obligation not only to the people of this city but to this country to make sure tomorrow and all through the day and particularly tomorrow night goes smoothly and goes well."

Residents have been told to expect a heavy police presence in coming days.

As the celebrated New York City Marathon took place on Sunday, security officials manned the routes through the city's five boroughs. Despite the heightened police presence and rolling street closures, the 40th marathon went smoothly.

No surprise to U.S. Congresswoman from New York, Carolyn Maloney: “No one’s better at it -- any place in the world-- than New York. We proved that on 9/11, and we prove that every day, and we will prove that again on election day.”

Election HQs

Outside the New York Hilton Midtown, the site of Trump’s election night headquarters, there was little evidence of the massive event to be held here on Tuesday night.

New York City police casually placed “No Parking Tuesday” signs around the venue as television trucks began to line up next to the hotel, and production crews busied themselves preparing for election night coverage.

The scene was similar at the Javits Center in Manhattan, where Clinton’s headquarters will be located on election night.

Though all seemed calm, some visitors expressed a subtle undercurrent of concern about safety and security.

When the Jones’ family from Portland, Oregon booked their hotel reservation months ahead of time, they had no idea they would be staying at the same location as Trump’s campaign headquarters on election night.

“We didn’t even know until yesterday morning that Trump was even going to be in the building; we just happened to walk by the concierge desk and heard that. Had we not heard that I don’t think we would have even known,” said Melissa Jones. “You wouldn’t feel it on the street.

The couple admitted feeling a bit uneasy.

“We’re going to the Rangers game Tuesday, we’re going to watch a hockey game and try to miss as much of the excitement here at the hotel as we can,” said husband Christopher Jones.

“It’s been a contentious battle and very uncomfortable, so I’m looking forward to Wednesday and getting through this whole election,” added Melissa Jones.

Trump Tower pageant

The scene was much more colorful in front of Trump Tower on 5th Avenue, where both supporters and protesters gathered under the watchful eye of New York City police.

Bemused passersby gathered with cell phone cameras directed at the spectacle. Two of the famed Naked Cowboys street performers played their guitars at the entrance. A man holding a “Dump Trump” sign joked about the Republican nominee, and two Trump supporters argued their case to a vociferous Clinton supporter, who readily shouted them down.

Trump supporter Anand Ahuja expressed concern about the explosive rhetoric this campaign season and fear that it could lead to violence.

“Everybody is concerned not only about one’s own safety, but at the same time about the safety of our presidential candidates,” Ahuja said.

But on the streets, as the clouds gave way to the warming sun, there was little sign of major worry here. Yellow cabs buzzed past. An iconic horse drawn carriage carrying a smiling couple rolled by. New Yorkers continued to stroll along.

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