Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Opens Up Early, Mail-In Voting In Hurricane Ian’s Wake

by | Oct 14, 2022 | Politics

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday issued an executive order expanding voting access for the midterm elections in three counties where Hurricane Ian destroyed polling places and displaced thousands of people.The move, which followed requests from Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota counties and voting rights groups, comes as Florida begins to undertake a massive recovery from the Category 4 hurricane that hit on Sept. 28 and leveled parts of the state’s southwest.AdvertisementThe order extends the number of early voting days in the three counties and authorizes election supervisors to designate additional early voting locations, steps that allow voters to cast ballots at any polling place in their registered county from Oct. 24 through Election Day, Nov. 8. Election supervisors can also relocate or consolidate polling places if necessary.It also waives training requirements for poll workers and suspends a signature requirement for voters requesting to have a mail ballot sent to an address that is different from the one election officials have on file.Shrimp boats lie grounded atop what was a San Carlos Island mobile home park in Fort Myers Beach, Florida on Friday.AP Photo/Rebecca BlackwellThe decision was praised by Tommy Doyle, the elections supervisor in Lee County, which was the epicenter of Ian’s wrath along the Gulf Coast.Advertisement“The Executive Order is crucial because it allows us to move forward with our plans to make voting as accessible as possible to the voters of Lee County,” Doyle said Thursday.Secretary of State Cord Byrd, a Republican appointee of the governor, said state officials are working to ensure that the election is “administered as efficiently and securely as possible across the state and in the counties that received the heaviest damage.”The changes are similar to policies allowed by former Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, after Hurricane Michael in 2018.DeSantis has faced questions over what steps he would take to ensure voting access in the heavily damaged southwest part of the state, which has leaned conservative in recent elections. The Republican governor, who is up for reelection, has made tightening election laws a top priority over the last two years, as he and others in the GOP reacted to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election.FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference last week in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. DeSantis announced an executive order expanding voting access for the midterm elections in three counties where Hurricane Ian destroyed polling places and displaced thousands.Nigel Cook/The Daytona Beach News-Journal via AP, FileAdvertisementThis week, a coalition of advocacy organizations sent a letter to state election officials that asked for extension of the state’s voter registration deadline, which ended Tuesday, along with a greater number …

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