Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has extended early voting as the state continues its recovery efforts following Hurricane Ian.
Secretary of State Cord Byrd recommended the action which had been requested by election supervisors in Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota Counties.
DeSantis signed Executive Order 22-234 on Oct. 13 which permits early voting to begin on Oct. 24 and remain in effect until Nov. 8. The order also designated additional voting locations. Voters registered in Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota counties can now “request by phone that their vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot be mailed to an address other than their address of record” but they will still need to “provide an appropriate form of identification in the same manner as absent uniform service and overseas voters,” per a statement from the governor’s office.
“Because of the effects of Hurricane lan in the Affected Counties, the strict application of some provisions of the Florida Election Code may prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency and may prevent the Supervisors of Elections in the Affected Counties from providing voters with an adequate opportunity to vote,” reads the order.
DeSantis’s office noted that “numerous Supervisors of Elections have publicly addressed their readiness, and thankfully most have very publicly stated that Ian’s impacts will not interfere with their duties.”
“In the wake of Hurricane Ian, the Florida Department of State has worked with Florida’s Supervisors of Elections and Governor DeSantis to ensure that the 2022 General Election is administered as efficiently and securely as possible across the state and in the counties that received the heaviest damage,” said Secretary Byrd. “Florida will continue to lead the way in elections administration in 2022, and I am grateful for and confident that our local elections officials will have all of the resources and support they need to run another successful election.”
Supervisors of Election in Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota Counties have said damage to polling locations and early voting sites, disruption in telecommunications services, a lack of available poll workers as well as displaced voters have created problems ahead of the midterm election. No damage to voting machines, election-related equipment, and ballots has been reported in any of the three counties.
“Ian was the fourth-strongest landfalling hurricane to strike Florida since data started being recorded,” reports Fox News. “Roughly 2.5 million people across the state were without power in the immediate aftermath of the storm.”
The order expires after 30 days.
Florida’s Joint Legislative Budget Commission approved an additional $360 million for DeSantis to direct toward Hurricane Ian recovery efforts on Oct. 13.