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Updated: Panhandle Counties Put Backup Voting Plans In Place After Hurricane Michael

Poll workers in training at the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office, 2016.
Tori Whitley

Election supervisors in the panhandle are scrambling to get back up and running ahead of election Day. In some places, that means having only a handful of so-called “super-voting” sites available. 

Update 10/18/18: Governor Rick Scott has issued an executive order allowing early voting in affected Panhandle counties to begin as early as October 22 and go through Election Day, November 6th. In the original version of this story, Leon Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley stated email and faxed ballots would be accepted. But a memo from the Florida Secretary of State's office released Thursday reads: "Voting by fax or email is not an option under the Executive Order. 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. The Department is actively reviewing ways to provide more absentee ballots to those voters in the counties severely impacted by Hurricane Michael."

This story has been updated with the newest information. 


Original Story: The usual voting precincts in the Panhandle may not be an option this year due to Hurricane Damage so supervisors in affected counties like Bay and Gulf, are opening a handful of so-called “super voting” sites for in-person voting. Those sites will be open in time for early voting and stay open through Election Day, November 6th. Other options for voters include mail-in-ballots for people displaced or who’ve lost theirs, or provisional ballots for people who’ve lost their ID’s during the storm. *

“I was talking to Jackson County, Supervisor Stephens there, and as I was talking to her on the phone the post-office delivered ballots to her," said Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley. "She was sitting at a table outside her office, they didn’t have power and were waiting on a generator—but ballots were being delivered and counties have been sending out ballots by mail, I’ve talked to several that are doing that.” 

Hurricane Michael also coincided with the last day to register to vote before the election. If a supervisors office was closed that day, voters can go in and register to vote the day the office re-opens. There’s no telling when that will be and different counties will open at different times.