Florida Officials Must Take Emergency Action to Ensure Voting Access Amid Hurricane Ian Recovery
TALLAHASSEE – Several organizations, including Equal Ground Education Fund, that belong to the Election Protection coalition convened by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a letter Tuesday to Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews and General Counsel Brad McVay urging emergency action to ensure voting access for Floridians as they recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Ian.
Specifically, the groups urge officials to:
Extend the voter registration deadline from October 11 to October 18, 2022;
Allow displaced voters to submit voter registration forms to any election office statewide;
Expand mandatory early voting days and hours in affected counties;
Allow voters to submit requests for vote-by-mail ballots via email and telephone, and to have ballots sent to a new address if they have been forced to relocate;
Allow election officials in affected counties to relocate or consolidate polling locations while maintaining equitable accessibility;
Allow voters throughout affected counties to vote at any polling location; and
Communicate all changes to voters with robust voter education efforts.
Florida’s Department of State has the authority under existing, recently-issued executive orders to take these necessary actions to ensure all eligible Florida voters can make their voices heard in the election on November 8.
The destruction caused by Hurricane Ian has significantly disrupted election administration and United States Postal Service operations in affected counties. Thousands of Floridians are still displaced and must now attempt to identify alternative means of voting while they remain unable to return to their homes and struggle to meet basic needs. The groups urge state officials to act immediately to confront the significant hardships caused to voters and election officials in the wake of Ian, which has caused widespread destruction and displaced thousands of Floridians.
The additional organizations cosigning the letter are: All Voting is Local Florida, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Campaign Legal Center, Common Clause Florida, Demos, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Florida State Conference.