ORLANDO, Fla. – Earlier this month Gov. DeSantis signed an executive order making some election concessions to three counties ravaged by Hurricane Ian.
Voting groups in the state are now calling on DeSantis to expand that order to almost 2 dozen other counties.
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The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan voting rights group, sent a letter Wednesday to DeSantis and Secretary of State Cord Byrd, asking for the extension.
“Additional voting modifications are desperately needed across the state due to the domino effect of displacement. Many communities have been impacted and people have fled from their homes to different areas across our state,” LWV said in a statement, joined by ACLU Florida, All Voting Florida, Latino Justice, the Legal Defense Fund and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
DeSantis issued the executive order on Oct. 13 for Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota counties. The order:
- Designates additional early voting locations, and allows county supervisors to extend early voting all the way to election day on Nov. 8.
- Allows voters in the three counties to request, over the phone, that vote-by-mail ballots be mailed to an address other than the one on file.
- Increase the number of people working as poll workers in those counties.
- Have all state agencies aid the three counties as needed.
A news release by the state said that Byrd and the Division of Elections assessed the needs of the other counties already and talked with Florida supervisors of elections. The release says several of the state’s supervisors have publicly said Ian will not interfere with conducting the elections.
However, in this case, the groups say the number of people displaced from homes necessitates extending the executive order so that more people will be able to get vote-by-mail ballots, since they won’t be able to get them at their old homes or go to former polling precincts. They also want to see all counties get additional hours during the week and on the weekend for early voting.
The groups also want the state to do more to ensure minority communities and low-income communities are given new precincts if older precincts are not usable.
Critics have accused DeSantis of helping only those three counties because they are Republican strongholds.
However, many of the counties in the 26-county FEMA disaster declaration are also considered Republican counties. In Central Florida, that includes Flagler, Lake, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties. Orange and Osceola counties are often considered Democratic counties.
Many of Central Florida’s county supervisors have reported minor impacts because of Hurricane Ian.
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