Early Voting Extended, Mail-In Ballot Rules Eased In 8 Panhandle Counties Post-Hurricane Michael

Oct 18, 2018

The inside of the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office with a vote sign
Credit Leon County Supervisor of Elections twitter

Early voting can start this coming Monday in eight Panhandle Counties hit by Hurricane Michael. Governor Rick Scott’s executive order provides a few extra days for voters to get to the polls.

The Jackson County Supervisor of Elections office is still dark following a power outage and The Bay County Supervisor of elections office has no roof. Widespread damage across the panhandle has rendered hundreds of local precincts inoperable. Now supervisors in affected counties are setting up a handful of voting sites in each of their counties that will stay open through election day.  Leon County Deputy election supervisor Chris Moore says Governor Rick Scott’s executive order gives impacted counties greater flexibility.

“There’s a couple of reasons this makes sense," he says. "If you’re already up and running, what’s two more days? They’ll just be able to stay put at whatever sites they designate for early voting and stay the Monday and Tuesday as well.”  

Mail-in ballots can also be forwarded to addresses different from the ones on file. They can also be requested by phoone or in writing. But voting by fax and email, which has been done in the past for first responders, is not an option.

Election supervisors in the panhandle are grappling with displaced voters, infrastructure damage and spotty power and communications.