Hurricane Ian bears down on Florida election deadline
Image via AP.

Election 2020 Climate Change
‘The only worse possible time this could come is right before an election.’

Election Day is still six weeks away, but the downwind effects of Hurricane Ian are already looming over this year’s Midterms.

County elections officials are required to send vote-by-mail ballots to voters between 40 days and 33 days before an election. This year, that window falls between this Thursday and the following Thursday and coincides with the estimated landfall of Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida late Wednesday.

In an email to the Department of State and the Division of Elections sent Tuesday afternoon, Leon County Supervisor of Elections and Florida Supervisors of Elections President Mark Earley asked if the state had any plans to provide flexibility to counties impacted by Ian. Earley told Florida Politics he sent the correspondence because, as the association head representing the state’s 67 county election officials, he had not heard any update from state election officials.

Early considered the possibility of delivering ballots early, so they wouldn’t all be housed in central facilities that could be damaged. He also floated extending the window to allay fears of postal service interruptions altogether.

Several elections offices have shuttered ahead of Ian’s arrival.

The Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office is closed Tuesday through Thursday, the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office is closed Tuesday and Wednesday and the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office closed at noon Tuesday, to name a few.

And while some counties might not see significant effects from the storm, they might contract with vendors elsewhere in the state that will.

“The entire state could be impacted in some way,” Earley told Florida Politics.

It wouldn’t be the first time hurricanes have affected the election season. September is the historic peak of the Atlantic hurricane season, and Labor Day traditionally marks the final runup to Election Day.

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew struck Homestead the week before the Primary Election was set to take place. Gov. Lawton Chiles granted Dade County a one-week delay because of the devastation.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley damaged precinct infrastructure in Southwest Florida, and the National Guard set up “super-precinct” tents to accommodate Primary Election voters. Storms have also forced Supervisor offices to send election workers home.

But Ion Sancho, who was Leon County’s Supervisor of Elections from 1988 to 2016, told Florida Politics he did not recall a hurricane affecting mail-in voting in the 20 years since the Legislature mandated the option.

“The only worse possible time this could come is right before an election,” Sancho said.

Given the impending hurricane, the Governor’s Office Directed Florida Politics to the Department of State for comment. The Department of State has not responded to Florida Politics’ inquiry. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Press Secretary, Bryan Griffin, told Florida Politics the deadline is “quite a ways away.”

Sancho said Secretary of State Cord Byrd cannot act to adjust voting rules without DeSantis’ direction.

Voters can request reissues of lost or missing vote-by-mail ballots from their local election office, possibly alleviating disruptions over the coming weeks.

While Florida law obligates election offices to mail ballots within the window, election supervisors might not be held at fault in case of a hurricane. Still, Sancho said it is supervisors’ duty to get ballots out on time and to make Election Day run as smoothly as possible.

“This becomes a horrible test to see how effectively the election office is able to come up with a plan on the fly,” Sancho said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


15 comments

  • Paul Passarelli

    September 27, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    Headline: Florida 9/27/22 With the immanent landfall of Hurricane Ian, Democrats are scrambling to figure out how to inject fraudulent votes in person.

    OMG! It would be just awful if people actually had to report to their *POLLING PLACES* to vote.

    • Charlie Crist

      September 27, 2022 at 6:19 pm

      👆Election conspiracy theorist. Russia thanks you, China thanks you, ISIS thanks you. You people are useful idiots.

      • Avy115

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      • Harsh Truths

        September 29, 2022 at 10:58 am

        Russian collusion was proven false. China is the real threat as they have repeatedly hacked U.S. servers for classified information including on the F-35 which as a result the Chinese built the J-20. ISIS hasn’t been a threat in a few years.

  • Tom

    September 27, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    Tropical 3 whirlwind coming. I recommend water skiing right off the west coast of Tampa and further south over the next few days. Don’t let the weather intimate you. Once you get out past the shore it’s worth it.

  • Andrew Finn

    September 27, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    If the voting ballots are delayed, it will not be because of Hurricane Ian. Don’t they know that EVERYTHING is caused by “climate change” or “global warming” (or whatever “they” are selling this week) as a chance to make some money?? Last week I had a runny nose and I could swear it was caused by “climate change” —— Nyuk – Nyuk – Nyuk !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Elliott Offen

      September 27, 2022 at 7:19 pm

      What’s “nyuk nyuk” is Republicans losing elections because of their vile behavior and then blaming it on the elections themselves…or “too many people voting.” You people are fake patriots… DISGRACEFUL.

    • Joe Corsin

      September 27, 2022 at 8:49 pm

      Trump’s whole presidency was a chance for him to make money. Yeah also sold you idiots snake oil. Many arrested and grifted to a husk.

      • Harsh Truths

        September 29, 2022 at 10:59 am

        Every president has made money while in office, so have a massive ton of other elected officials but only focus on Trump.

  • Tjb

    September 28, 2022 at 10:07 am

    Governor DeSantis,
    Hurricane heading toward my home. I can’t get property insurance. Need help now. One company offer me insurance at double what I paid last year, but as yesterday they dropped out of the Florida market. Help me Ron

    • Anna V. Eskamani

      October 3, 2022 at 11:43 pm

      Hello, I am Anna V. Eskamani The representative of Charlie Crist governor aspirant, from the grass root movement, in response to the ongoing disaster the governor aspirant Charlie Crist has lunched the program KICK OFF DISASTER FOR BETTER FLORIDA kindly Text CHARLIE to (202) 240-2696

  • Paul Passarelli

    September 28, 2022 at 11:54 am

    If you’re asking for a hand-up, asking Governor DeSantis to look at the situation is the right thing to do.

    If you’re asking for a handout, you should move to a Blue State.

    #DemocratFail

    • I got it

      September 28, 2022 at 6:46 pm

      Hurricane Ian: I heard you needed water.

  • Anna V. Eskamani

    October 3, 2022 at 11:42 pm

    Hello, I am Anna V. Eskamani The representative of Charlie Crist governor aspirant, from the grass root movement, in response to the ongoing disaster the governor aspirant Charlie Crist has lunched the program KICK OFF DISASTER FOR BETTER FLORIDA kindly Text CHARLIE to (202) 240-2696

    • Paul Passarelli

      October 4, 2022 at 1:52 pm

      @Anna,
      Will you crack down on the user of the fake ‘Charlie Crist’ alias here on this forum?

      Actually, I should encourage the troll to keep using the alias. Why? Because each time one of the threads here gets picked up by a mainstream reader or Google search, it make your boy come off as an ass; which really isn’t far from the truth.

      So in hindsight, let the “Charlie Crist” alias keep posting away!

Comments are closed.


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