Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Department of State unveiled their plan on Thursday to help voters who were impacted by Hurricane Michael last week.
Scott issued an executive order on Thursday giving election supervisors “in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty, and Washington counties the authority to extend and enhance voting options based on needs and challenges they have identified” with a host of options.
“Locally-elected supervisors of elections in the impacted counties are now able to extend the amount of days of early voting, designate additional early voting locations and expedite the delivery and acceptance of vote-by-mail ballots,” the Department of State noted.
The order also has the Department “coordinate with each supervisor of elections in Florida to ensure that Florida National Guard troops, first responders, law enforcement, volunteers, and utility power restoration workers engaged in the recovery efforts in the Panhandle and anyone who evacuated from the storm can cast a ballot” and waives the vote-by-mail restriction on ballots being forwarded to different addresses. while ensuring votes won’t be cast by fax or email.
“With the General Election less than three weeks away, this unprecedented storm has impacted the normal operations of administering an election in counties that were hit hardest,” the department noted. “Before and after Hurricane Michael’s landfall, the Department began reaching out to counties affected by the storm to determine any potential impacts to voting sites and the administration of the upcoming general election. Today’s plan is based on feedback received from the locally-elected supervisors of elections. The Florida Department of State’s top priority is ensuring that there are ample opportunities for Floridians impacted by Hurricane Michael, many of whom lost their homes, to be able to cast ballots while protecting the integrity of the 2018 general election.”
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner offered his take on the extended early voting.
“The Department shares the governor’s commitment to ensuring that all registered voters from counties devastated by Hurricane Michael are able to exercise their right to vote safely and securely in the upcoming general election. With the input from local supervisors of elections, we put forth recommendations to Governor Scott and we greatly appreciate the governor’s support of our requests,” he said.