Local Supervisor of Elections addresses scrutiny

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - From extended early voting to six mega sites in Bay County, Hurricane Michael changed the normal operations of this election cycle.

Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen said he had to take care of displaced voters and wanted their voices to still be heard.

He said he and his staff worked with 147 displaced voters making sure they signed an oath, verified identification, and secured the information.

According to Andersen, the ballots were returned by e-mail similar to policies for overseas voters.

Some have scrutinized his office because an executive order sent from Secretary of State Ken Detzner on October 18 allowed eight Panhandle supervisors, including Andersen, to "extend the amount of days of early voting, expedite the delivery and acceptance of vote-by-mail ballots" among other things.

Detzner's press release went on to "voting by fax or e-mail is not an option."

Andersen claims he made secretary Detzner fully aware of his intentions before election day.

"Anyone that feels in the devastation that we experienced and the categories or the limitations that we had on our citizens of Bay County, if you want to turn around and take these votes away from voters because it's not the normal prescribed issue, I would just say you ought to be ashamed of yourselves because what we did is take care of voters," Andersen explained. "What we have is a signature for voters and at some point, if they want to come back and reverse that scenario, I can tell you that we have that in a condition that if a court says so, we can correct that. However, that would be a very, very sad thing to do based on what you think your race or your opponent or candidacy or whatever else, because guess what? Elections are for voters. Not for candidates and not for political parties."

We reached out to Secretary Detzner's office for comment Friday afternoon, but we have not heard back.

Andersen said he welcomes scrutiny, but not the false accusations.

His canvassing board is preparing for a recount of the U.S. Senate and Agriculture Commissioner races Sunday afternoon.