Hurricane Ian on Sept. 28, 2022. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens
Gov. Ron DeSantis has loosened voting regulations in the counties most damaged by Hurricane Ian to account for disruptions to polling locations and early voting sites, loss of power and cellphone access, displaced voters, and unavailability of poll workers.
The governor signed an executive order for Charlotte, Lee, and Sarasota counties allowing:
- Extension of early voting beginning on Monday, Oct. 24, through election day on Nov. 8.
- Phone requests to send mail-in ballots to addresses not listed in people’s voter registration records providing they produce the proper ID.
- Relocation of polling stations and ballot drop boxes.
- Poll workers who trained for the 2020 election cycle to work during this one. State employees are encouraged to serve, too.
Secretary of State Cord Byrd recommended the modifications after conferring with Florida’s county supervisors of election, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“We’re modeling it very similar off what was done in Bay County after Hurricane Michael,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Cape Coral.
“Basically, there’s a couple of things I think are important. They’re going to be able to set up super sites for people to go vote. So, if your precinct was destroyed, you have this super site. They’re also going to have additional days for early voting, so people could vote the Sunday and Monday before, right until Tuesday of the election day,” he said.
As for delivery of mail-in ballots to different addresses, “you have to call, you have to give them the last four [digits] of your Social [Security number] or email — you gotta prove who you are; it’s not just ballots in the ether,” DeSantis added.
“But if you home got destroyed and you’re staying with your in-laws, then you could have them send that ballot to your in-laws.”
Voting rights groups including the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, All Voting is Local Florida, Common Cause Florida, Equal Ground, ACLU of Florida, Campaign Legal Center, Demos, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also requested modifications.
With the midterm elections, in which DeSantis is seeking reelection, less than a month away, Charlotte, Lee, and Sarasota counties constitute a Republican stronghold with 450,370 Republican registered voters, 265,276 Democrats, and 383,720 no party preference voters.
Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Gov. DeSantis.
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