TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order allowing local election officials in counties hit hard by Hurricane Ian to make changes to their election procedures.
This comes as tens of thousands in Sarasota, Lee and Charlotte counties are still displaced from their homes after the powerful Category 4 storm’s powerful winds and devastating storm surge slammed southwest Florida two weeks ago.
The Governor’s office said the Supervisors of Elections in those three counties reported damage to polling locations and early voting sites, as well as disruptions in telecommunications and utilities that would hinder their work on Election Day. The counties also reported displaced voters and poll workers.
With less than a month to go until Election Day, the executive order allows the Supervisors of Elections in those counties to extend the number of early voting days and early voting locations. It also allows voters in the affected areas to request a vote-by-mail ballot to be sent an address other than the one on-file with their elections office. Voters will have to request the ballot over the phone and must provide valid identification, like overseas voters and military service members already do.
The order also allows the Supervisors of Elections to change the locations of ballot drop boxes and consolidate polling locations as they deem necessary.
The executive order will permit local election officials to increase their pool of poll workers by allowing people trained for the 2020 election to return without repeating the training and by urging state employees to take on election duties.
The Governor’s office said the Department of State reached out dozens of states affected by Hurricane Ian determine their needs for the upcoming election, but only Sarasota, Lee and Charlotte required these changes.
Gov. DeSantis also directed state agencies to assist those counties if their Supervisors of Elections require it. Their Supervisors of Elections will be required to notify both the public and the Department of State of the actions they take under the executive order.
The Governor’s office said local election officials reported no damage to voting machines and that all ballots and voting equipment are secure.
You can read the full text of Executive Order 22-234 here.