TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — An article in The Guardian claims that Governor Ron DeSantis is manipulating the equal access to voting in the upcoming November 8 elections by selectively applying emergency powers to certain Hurricane Ian-impacted counties.
“Governor Ron DeSantis has made voting easier in certain Florida counties battered by Hurricane Ian – but only Republican-leaning ones. DeSantis signed an executive order on Thursday that eases voting rules for about 1 million voters in Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota counties, all areas that Hurricane Ian hit hard and that all reliably vote Republican,” The Guardian wrote.
The executive order, which was issued on October 13, includes measures that make it possible for the disaster-struck counties to extend the number of days for early voting and designate additional early voting locations. Early voting in the affected counties can start on October 24 and extend through Election Day.
It also allows voters to – via phone – request that their vote-by-mail ballot be mailed to an address other than their address of record. It also makes it possible to relocate and consolidate polling places and increase the number of poll workers in the counties.
“POLITICIZING NATURAL DISASTER”
“Tens of thousands of Floridians have been displaced, and today’s executive order fails to meet the moment and ensure voting access for all Florida voters,” Jasmine Burney-Clark of voter rights organization Equal Ground told The Guardian, adding that “Governor DeSantis is politicizing a natural disaster.”
But Governor DeSantis’ press secretary Bryan Griffin says that these allegations are untrue – calling it “another false narrative.”
“The Florida Dept of State consulted with SOEs in every county impacted by Ian. Charlotte, Lee, and Sarasota counties are the only ones that requested provisions (reported voting facilities damaged or no longer standing.) Supervisors outside of these three counties made no such requests and, in fact, have made statements about their readiness for the election (including Collier, Volusia, Osceola, Manatee, and Orange). This is easily and publicly verifiable,” Griffin wrote in a Twitter thread.
EMERGENCY MEASURES NOT NEEDED
The article in The Guardian suggests that Democrat-leaning Orange county was bypassed by DeSantis in his executive order for political reasons. But according to a report in WESH, the conditions in that county do not warrant emergency measures:
“With Hurricane Ian in mind, elections officials have checked early voting and election day precinct locations near areas that have sustained flooding. All were spared the worst of the storm,” WESH stated in a news story shared by Griffin.