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Changes to election rules could help storm-displaced voters

Courtesy of Kelley Minars via Flickr Creative Commons
Voting could be easier in hurricane-damaged counties in Southwest Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis has issued an order to change the rules to allow more early voting, and to speed mail ballots to those displaced by Hurricane Ian.

Governor Ron DeSantis is taking actions to make it easier for some Southwest Floridians to vote in November. He's allowing changes in election rules in some hurricane-damaged counties.

The governor's executive order covers voters in Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota Counties. Those displaced by the hurricane have a new way to get mail in ballots.

A voter can call the county election office, and request a ballot be sent to an address, other than the one on record.

Lee County elections supervisor Tommy Doyle petitioned the governor to make that change.

"We've had a lot of calls from Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, really all over the county from displaced voters," Doyle said. "Now they can get their mail ballots at another address. This will expedite that process."

The order also allows the three counties to add early voting sites and days. Doyle says early voting begins October 24th, and he's adding two days in Lee -- the Sunday and Monday right before election day - November 8. Lee also will open early voting sites on election day.

Lee will have 12 early voting sites, but the office still is working on exact locations for two of them. One site, which has been used previously, sustained damage in the storm, and another is being used as a recovery center.

Doyle said he has the staff to handle extra work created by the emergency rules.

"I am feeling pretty good about it," he said. "I think it's going to be efficient."

Here's the lee county number to call to request a mail ballot be sent to an alternate address: 239-533-8683.

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Forty-one-year veteran of television news in markets around the country, including more than 18 years as an anchor and reporter at WINK-TV in southwest Florida.