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Ron DeSantis postpones Pasco County elections amid COVID-19 pandemic

Several local elections are affected.

Gov. Ron DeSantis declared an election emergency in Pasco County Wednesday night, delaying the county’s April 14 election.

The executive order declared Wednesday evening delays elections for Dade City, Zephyrhills and San Antonio. The order does not set a date for a new election.

Several non-partisan elections were scheduled including three races for Dade City Commission, three city council races in San Antonio and a head-to-head match in one race for Mayor of Zephyrhills.

Turnout in those municipal elections are typically low-turnout. However, the Governor’s order is written to “ensure maximum citizen participation in the electoral process and provide a safe and orderly procedure for persons seeking to exercise their right to vote” as well as to “minimize citizen exposure to danger during this emergence” and to “protect the the integrity of the electoral process.”

DeSantis wrote in his order that he would issue a subsequent executive order rescheduling the elections “as soon as is practicable.”

The order follows a request from Pasco County Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley last week asking to delay the elections.

“Said request is consistent with providing and ensuring the health and safety of the voters, employees and poll workers in the upcoming elections,” Corley wrote at the time.

As of Wednesday evening, the Florida Department of Health reported 127 cases of the novel coronavirus in Pasco County, almost oll which are residents (123.) Of those, 25 people have been hospitalized including one non-resident.

Two people in the county have died as a result of the virus. Infected individuals range in age from one to 82.

Statewide, Supervisors of Election are scrambling to plan for upcoming elections in August and the presidential election, calling for flexibility in their plans. Many Democrats are calling for exclusive vote by mail elections to protect Floridians from future spread of the COVID-19 disease. Many Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, are rejecting those calls indicating doing so would cause confusion and possible election fraud.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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