Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty, and Washington counties are all still facing existential challenges regarding recovery from Hurricane Michael. On Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott rolled out an Executive Order outlining the way forward. Supervisors of elections in the affected counties can extend early voting, beginning next Monday. Poll watchers have until Oct. 26 to register, and vote-by-mail ballots can be forwarded to different addresses, an accommodation for displaced voters. The media release does rule out voting by fax or email. “In the hardest hit areas, communication via phone, fax and email remains challenging and would be an unreliable method for returning ballots. Additionally, past attempts by other states to allow voters impacted by natural disasters to fax or email ballots have been rife with issues.”
Secretary of State Ken Detzner said, “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.”
The eight counties, which have been a solid voting bloc for Republicans in state races, included 223,175 registered voters as of the August primaries. Roughly 43 percent of the voters were registered as Republicans, while 40 percent were Democrats and 17 percent were independents or registered with third parties.