TALLAHASSEE, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday took action to help localities prepare for what could be a high participation rate this year, but stopped short of extending early voting or allow counties to consolidate polling in the field of battle amid signs that the President of Donald Trump bashing ballots by mail may be resonating with Republican voters.
DeSantis called for the closure of schools during the month of August primary and November general election to make room for what could be record voter turnout. He also signed an executive order that makes it easier for state employees to work at the polls on Election Day.
DeSantis, a Republican and Trump ally, has been under pressure for months to the local elections supervisors, who fear the coronavirus pandemic could affect their ability to recruit poll workers and manage voting in a presidential year.
The announcements were relayed on Wednesday evening, in a letter to the Secretary of State of bay-Lee to the state’s 67 election supervisors.
The governor acted after an increase in pressure from Republican allies, who worry that Florida once again, could become a national laughing stock during the 2020 state and presidential elections.
Citing fear poll workers and a loss of polling, the association that represents the state of the election officials first asked DeSantis at the beginning of April to give them more flexibility than advance voting, the voting, and the deadline for the submission of mail-in ballots.
Then, for Georgia, the primary election was marred by long lines and problems with voting machines, an ominous sign of possible trouble for a state like Florida, which has had its own race voting of disasters, including a chaotic recount that followed the 2000 presidential election.
But the DeSantis administration on Wednesday not to act on several suggestions from supervisors, including a request to extend the number of days to vote, and to consolidate the voting stations.
Instead, the governor urged local school districts to close on Aug. 18 and Nov. 3 to make it easier to use schools as polling places.
Under this decree, the workers of the state will be allowed to take administrative leave to serve as poll workers. DeSantis also gave counties the ability to begin counting vote-by-mail ballots slightly prior to the departure date. The governor also promised that the state’s emergency management division would provide sanitizers, cleaners, and other protective equipment for supervisors.
“It is very useful, I’m glad we got an answer,” Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley said. “It gives us something to work with.”
In florida, Chairman of the Democratic Party terried him Rizzo, said the governor’s moves do not go far enough.
“It’s disappointing the governor will not honour those who have fought and died for us to have the right to vote by ensuring that floridians do not have to endanger themselves to exercise their right to vote,” Rizzo said in a text message. “If the governor was serious about the protection of our health and of our votes, it would expand the executive to respond to requests of election supervisors, including the development of early voting in order to reduce the lines on Election Day, the funding to promote the statewide vote-by-mail registration and a clear roadmap for the safe conduct and free elections.”
DeSantis has another reason to act: there are growing signs that the Republican voters Trump needs to win in the battleground state could waive vote-by-mail as a preferred means to vote. For decades, in Florida, the Republicans have had a strong vote-by-mail operation, but Trump has spent months vilifying the process, as a prey to the fraud.
During the 2018 election, the voting in the state has been divided roughly three ways between voting by mail, early voting in person and vote in person on Election Day.
But a June survey of The Tyson Group, an organization run by GOP pollster Ryan Tyson, shows a growing number of Republican voters plan on Election Day, while Democrats say they plan to cast their ballots by mail.
The survey, conducted from June 7 to 11, found that 49 percent of the likelihood of Republican voters surveyed plan to vote on Election Day itself, compared to 28 percent of Democrats.
Forty percent of Democrats said they intend to vote by mail, compared to 23% of Republicans. The Tyson Group interviewed 1,000 registered voters who are expected to or have said that they will vote in 2020. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.1 percent.
The governor’s action also comes as the Florida and the election officials to fight a lawsuit that was filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern Florida by a group of Florida voters, Democratic super PAC Priorities usa and other Democratic-leaning organizations.
The case seeks to throw out state ballot return deadlines, and laws that limit who is allowed to collect vote by mail ballots and return them to the local election office. The lawsuit also wants the local authorities to pick up the cost of postage for the return of the ballots, something that 17 counties — including the urban places such as Broward and Orange have already the intention of doing so.
Many election supervisors, both Democrats and Republicans, are opposed to the lawsuit, which will go before a judge at the end of July.
The Committee National Republican, and the Republican Party of Florida are also fighting the lawsuit.
DeSantis announced his plan a day after the state Division of Elections, said county supervisors, it would distribute more than $ 20.2 million on July 1 to take precautions against the sars coronavirus. The congress has provided $ 400 million in care Act to help states prepare for the elections in the course of the epidemic.