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Hurricane Ravaged Panhandle Could Face Election Difficulties

October 16th, 2018 by Mike Vasilinda
Nine of the counties hardest hit by Hurricane Michael have played a significant role in the outcome of statewide elections.
Voters face significant hurdles when early voting begins next Monday.
Traffic was backed up for more than three miles with relief workers, volunteers or displaced residents, a rarity in downtown Blountstown, the county seat for Calhoun County.
Elections Supervisor Sharon Chason says mail ballots poses a particular problem.
“There’s no way a postal carrier can get into probably half of…more than half of the county,” said Chason.
The damaged counties play an important role in statewide elections.
Donald Trump got nearly 79,000 votes, equating to 69% of his margin of victory.
Rick Scott won in 2014 by just over 64,000 votes.
The nine counties accounted for 70% of his margin of victory.
Both major parties have something to worry about,
“We’ve got a whole set of people who are relocating,” said Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Gillum. “And my guess is voting isn’t at the top of their agenda right now.”
Gillum should expect 15,000 more votes from heavily damaged Gadsden, if people turn out.
Florida statute 101.733 allows the Governor to suspend or delay an election for up to ten days, but Supervisors in the hardest areas say that won’t be necessary.
“Folks that involved, the Counties, the Supervisors, are working twenty-four-seven to try to make sure they can meet the demands of the election and the voters in their counties,” said Rob Labasky with the Florida State Association of Elections Supervisors.
Early voting starts Monday, but making that happen won’t be easy for Supervisors, or voters.
Under Florida law, any registered voter can vote anywhere in the state during early voting or on election day.
That includes displaced residents or relief workers away from home.
Simply change you address at any polling place in the county where you have re-located.

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