Elections supervisors again plead for ‘flexibility and authority’

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DeSantis did not act when asked to in April.

Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to frustrate the state’s elections supervisors when it comes to what they want for the 2020 election.

On Wednesday, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer, the President of the Florida Supervisors of Elections, urged the Governor to take action and give them the tools they need to “overcome the challenges of the current health crisis.”

The May 15 letter follows up on a plea made on April 7 for “flexibility and authority” to make key changes, including more latitude for vote-by-mail and voting sites, and the drawdown of “much needed” federal coronavirus relief funds, $20.2 million in relief monies from the federal CARES Act.

The letter urges the Governor to expand the prerogatives of a 2019 executive order broadening access to voting in Bay and Gulf Counties, including the ability to designate one or more additional early voting sites, as well as the ability to relocate or consolidate any polling place and flexible calendars for early voting.

The letter also notes the time-sensitive nature of allocating federal funds, noting that necessary supplies are becoming “scarce.” That money will require a state match of just over $4 million.

The $400 million in new Help America Vote Act (HAVA) emergency funds was signed into law by Pres. Donald Trump on Mar. 27.

The letter notes the urgency of the request, with absentee ballots going out to overseas voters by early July.

“Our request for executive action cannot wait any longer,” the epistle pleads.

Supervisors first started noticing problems during the March election.

With poll workers in Duval and Broward having tested COVID-19 positive and having potentially impacted unlucky voters in the presidential primary, elections supervisors from around the state demanded in April flexibility in local decision-making as they deal with the grave challenges ahead.

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Anticipated challenges to recur include “unavailable” polling places, “difficulty in acquiring hand sanitizer and other supplies” and “substantial numbers of poll workers deciding not to work, many at the last minute.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]



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