DeSantis eases access to voting in counties affected by Hurricane Ian : NPR


Power crews work to restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian Oct. 6 on San Carlos Island in Lee County, Florida.

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DeSantis eases access to voting in counties affected by Hurricane Ian : NPR

Power crews work to restore power in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian Oct. 6 on San Carlos Island in Lee County, Florida.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday signed an order extending access to early voting and mail-in voting for some voters affected by Hurricane Ian ahead of this fall’s election.

According to the governor’s office, the order was issued at the request of election officials in Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota counties, and the changes apply to residents of those counties, which were among the hardest hit by the storm. murder at the end of last month.

State officials say election supervisors in those three counties reported severe damage to polling places, disruptions to utilities and telecommunications, voter shortages, and many voters displaced just weeks before the polling day. So far, no local official in Florida has reported damage to voting equipment.

In a statement, Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd said his office has been in contact with local officials to “ensure that the 2022 general election is administered in the most efficient and as safe as possible” in the counties that suffered the most damage from Hurricane Ian.

“Florida will continue to lead the way in administering elections in 2022,” Byrd said. “And I’m grateful and confident that our local election officials will have all the resources and support they need to deliver another successful election.”

The governor’s order allows Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota counties to designate additional early voting sites and then expand those sites through Election Day. These sites mean that voters in affected areas will be able to vote at one of these polling centers, instead of only being able to vote in their local constituency on Election Day. This allows local officials to have to find fewer locations to open on election day.

The Lee County Supervisor of Elections told NPR last week that dozens of precinct sites on Election Day were not operational.

Under the order, officials are required to publicly notify voters of any changes they make.

The ordinance also allows voters in those counties to request by phone that their mail-in ballot be mailed to an address that is not currently included in their mail-in ballot request. The change aims to make voting by mail easier for people who have been displaced from their homes.

Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota county officials can now also waive current poll worker training requirements ahead of the election. In an effort to increase the pool of eligible workers, any poll worker who has already been trained for the 2020 election cycle or subsequent elections may serve as a poll worker without this year’s training.

DeSantis’ order follows a series of reforms in Florida that added new restrictions on voting. The measures adopted following the 2020 elections impose new limits on postal voting and drop boxes, among others.

DeSantis himself is eligible for re-election this year. The three counties affected by the ordinance are Republican-leaning. In 2020, Donald Trump won 62%, 59% and 54% of the vote in Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota counties respectively.


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