MIAMI (NewsNation) — Some Florida Democrats are taking issue with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ extended voting provisions for residents of the state’s most Republican-leaning counties that were damaged in Hurricane Ian — while some counties are left out.
An executive order signed by DeSantis will extend early voting in Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota counties. It also allows residents to change their addresses by phone for mail-in ballots, relocate polling locations if necessary and increase the pool of eligible poll workers.
“Because we have 50 or 60,000 people who moved out of their homes because of flooding, they are displaced. So to go to their polling location, that would be problematic,” said Tommy Doyle, an elections supervisor for Lee County.
But Orange County, a more Democratic stronghold where Orlando is located and which also experienced flooding, is not included in the expanded voting rules; which has angered some Democratic voting groups.
Equal Ground, an organization that advocates for the voting rights of Black Floridians, called out DeSantis’ executive order.
“DeSantis is politicizing a natural disaster and using this moment to protect only his Republican strongholds by expanding voting access in just three counties,” wrote Jasmine Burney-Clark, the founder of the organization.
Bryan Griffin, DeSantis’ press secretary, called that “another false narrative.”
“The Florida Department of State consulted with the supervisor of elections in every county impacted by Ian … Charlotte, Lee and Sarasota counties are the only ones that requested provisions,” he said.
The new voting rules will apply to about 1 million people.
Charles Zelden, a political science professor at Nova Southeastern University, said the executive order could present a challenge to Charlie Crist, the Democrat vying for DeSantis’ job.
“The areas that were hit the hardest and getting the changed rules are some of the most Republican sectors in the state of Florida,” he said. “These are areas where DeSantis could get significant advances over Charlie Crist. If they couldn’t vote or the totals were lowered in some way, it could have helped the Democrats. This way, that is not going to happen.”