Voting rules waived for hurricane-torn counties

Published: Oct. 19, 2018 at 8:52 PM CDT
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Hurricane Michael hit just weeks before the midterm elections, and recovery will continue well after November 6.

An executive order signed by the governor will make it easier for those in affected counties to vote.

Ten days after Hurricane Michael blasted through Blountstown in Calhoun County there are signs of recovery, but the scars left have forever changed the landscape.

Election day is just over two weeks away.

Calhoun County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Chason says damage from Michael is complicating election planning.

“We are trying to keep things as normal as possible. We had two polling sites that were completely destroyed,” said Chason.

At a relief station in the heart of downtown, residents say no one is talking politics, but they do want to vote.

“I wanna see the people that I would want to vote for in office and you can't do that without voting,” said Blountstown resident Gary Futch.

“I plan on voting because we still need to keep people in the chair that is doing good for us even though the hurricane came through,” said local Shelena Cooper.

Governor Rick Scott signed in executive order Thursday loosening, even waving some voting rules for eight impacted counties.

It will allow mail-in ballots to be sent to addresses different from the ones registered for voters, give supervisors the option of extending early voting up to election day, and allow them to set up polling places in locations not generally allowed.

The executive order also instructed all supervisors of elections to ensure the delivery of vote by mail ballots to military members, law enforcement, and line workers responding to affected counties.

Republicans do have an advantage in seven out of the eight counties included in the executive order. Governor Scott took those counties in his narrow victory over Charlie Christ in the 2014 election.

Voters we spoke with were mostly conservative and say the hurricane will not change the way they plan to vote.