TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CN) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday relaxed or altogether waived voting rules for eight counties in the Florida panhandle that bore the brunt of Hurricane Michael’s destructive power last week.
Scott’s executive order gives election supervisors in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty, and Washington counties to extend the early voting period in their jurisdictions all the way to Election Day.
Florida law requires early voting to wrap up the weekend before Election Day.
The governor’s order also allows people to request that mail-in ballots be delivered to a different address than the one on file in the state’s voter registration list.
Tens of thousands of people still do not have power in the region, and the community of Mexico Beach was completely destroyed when the storm came ashore.
State officials said they made these moves amid reports of damaged polling places, power outages and limited phone service.
The Department of State said in a press release that no voting equipment was damaged.
“We applaud Governor Scott’s Administration on an Executive Order that embraces a thoughtful, comprehensive and targeted solution,” Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement. “It is of the utmost importance that while we are rebuilding communities in the Panhandle, we are also allowing sufficient access to the polls this election cycle.”
Ingoglia added, “The RPOF commends Gov. Scott and his Administration for enhancing voting options during this trying time, and for enacting an order that empowers more local input.”