Uh-oh! One of Florida’s Top Election Officials Discusses Mail-in-Ballot Challenges Caused by Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian will affect Floridians in many ways, including the November elections. The Category 4 hurricane has already claimed at least 25 lives and will likely cause hundreds of billions of dollars in property destruction.
The hurricane landed on Florida’s southwest coast on Wednesday afternoon and wreaked havoc on the state. It also caused trouble for other states, such as South Carolina.
Another area where Floridians will likely be affected by the hurricane is in the upcoming midterm elections. Mail-in ballots are already a controversial topic among many voters in the state, and Ian-related delays are sure to make that concern worse.
Mark Earley, who serves as the Florida Supervisors of Elections President and is the Leon County Supervisor of Elections, discussed how Hurrican Ian could delay mail-in ballots being counted this November.
#Ian upends Florida’s election plan: Counties consider delaying their scheduled mail-out dates for domestic vote-by-mail ballots — potentially past the deadline imposed by Florida’s constitution. By @BiancaJoanie https://t.co/JRDy6XS14x
— Mary Ellen Klas (@MaryEllenKlas) September 30, 2022
There’s a possibility some counties may need some additional time,” said Earley, Leon County’s Supervisor of Elections. “That’s still being assessed on a county-by-county basis … Most counties will be able to meet that deadline. I think there might be some exceptions to that.”
Mail ballot delays possible in parts of Florida amid Hurricane Ian, election official says https://t.co/qYoBmisQFr
— Bradenton Herald (@bradentonherald) September 29, 2022
The Florida Supervisors of Election association is looking at “creative ways” of getting mail ballots to people who have been displaced by Hurricane Ian, have downed mailboxes or lost their homes entirely.https://t.co/13KkyCMCVi
— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) September 30, 2022
Earley said that some election supervisors, particularly those in Southwest Florida, may be away from their offices as they deal with personal matters relating to the fallout from the hurricane.
“They had to react fairly quickly,” he told The Miami Herald. “Some of them moved away from the county … And so they’re still trying to work their way back to their offices.”
Earley discussed the challenges that election supervisors will face in trying to receive mail-in-ballots and count them in a timely fashion, saying that they may move voting centers online.
“We may have to bring voting centers online to service multiple precincts, very much like an early voting site. And it may well affect vote-by-mail,” Earley said. “Polling places is going to be a problem. Poll workers may be a problem because of interrupted lives and displaced people. Serving the voting needs of our emergency management workers or first responders. That’s always a challenge in these circumstances.”
Mail ballot delays possible in parts of Florida amid Hurricane Ian, election official says https://t.co/tzK5e4QAGN @RonDeSantisFL will go to extremes to make sure SW FL can vote. Loaded with GOP voters
— Steve Joseph🇺🇦🌻 (@RealSteveJoe) September 30, 2022
After discussing the challenges that the hurricane will pose to Florida’s elections, Early expressed confidence in Florida’s election system, saying that election supervisors should be well-prepared to handle issues coming from Hurricane Ian.
“I think we’ve got better systems available to us. Especially in the vote-by-mail realm, with the ability very much like how we provide ballots for overseas military and ADA voters,” He said.
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