Storm-battered Florida faces election challenges

Hurricane Ian

(NewsNation) — Hurricane Ian’s devastation has been widespread, leaving at least 84 people confirmed dead and more than 2.5 million without power in what was one of the strongest and costliest hurricanes to hit the U.S.

But as recovery and rehabilitation efforts continue for the Southwest and even some inland Florida communities, it’s become evident that the tropical storm has affected the political realm as well —especially given that Florida’s midterm elections on November 8 is only about 5 weeks away.

Per numbers crunched by the Tallahassee Democrat, the four counties —  Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee and Collier — that received the most damage from the Category 4 hurricane have a combined 1.3 million voters, including 582,743 Republicans, 321,706 Democrats and 371,390 no party, Independent or minor party voters.

Several polling places in spots like Lee County, Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and most of Cape Coral still doesn’t have power, causing supervisor of elections offices to remain closed until further notice.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis talked Wednesday about the potential issues Florida could face as he is running for re-election in a few weeks.

“So yeah, obviously people are going to be able to vote I think we still need to, I think the supervisor here is in the process of looking at all the precincts figuring out, you know, where you may have problems and then they will propose a solution for the state of Florida,” said DeSantis.

In Lee Country, most people won’t be able to vote at their regular polling location. Election teams are right now looking for temporary voting sites.

And come Friday, election officials in Fort Myers say they’ll mail out about 176 thousand vote-by-mail ballots even though the post office still isn’t up and running in some of the hardest hit places.

But a major hurdle in Florida could be getting people to vote.

In Cape Coral near Fort Myers, Diana Smith and her husband haven’t had power, clean water, or cell service for a week.

“We didn’t have water, we don’t have any power, we lost our fence, we lost our pool screen,” said Diana Smith, a Cape Coral resident speaking on “Rush Hour” Wednesday.

When asked if they’re thinking about the fact that there’s an election in a few weeks, Smith replies:

“No. No. I’m just when you see or hear it on the radio… when you hear that Matlacha is gone, Sanibel is gone, Pine Island I mean those people are just gone the houses aren’t even there it’s like a slab of dirt, that’s more important than I think worrying about an election.”

Polling officials in Sarasota County, which is located just north Lee County, told “Rush Hour” they lost about a week’s worth of work because of Hurricane Ian. In Lee County, it was stressed that election security is paramount and that they’ll do everything they can to make voting safe and secure in just a few weeks.

© 1998 - 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Trending on NewsNation

Elections 2022

More Elections 2022