The top election official in heavily Republican Bay County allowed residents displaced by Hurricane Michael to vote by email and fax, contrary to Florida law.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and others are expressing outrage at the special provision made for these voters.
The Miami Herald reported that Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen said on Monday that 11 ballots were accepted by email and 147 were faxed in, though Florida law only permits those serving in the military overseas to use these methods.
Andersen said all the ballots he accepted were verified by signature and voters were required to sign an oath.
“If I can validate it with a signature, the ballot is there, how is that different than a ballot that comes in through the post office?” the election official said.
“When devastation happens, leaders rise to the top and make decisions,” he added. “I will not change my mind on this, not for these voters.”
Bay County, located in Florida’s Panhandle, includes Mexico Beach and Panama City Beach, some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Michael in mid-October.
According to the Herald, Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order on Oct. 18 allowing election supervisors in Bay County and other counties impacted by the storm to extend early voting days and designate more early voting locations, but did not make provision for voting by fax or email.
Speaking at an African American church in Boynton Beach in Palm Beach County, north of Miami, on Monday night, Gillum expressed outrage that Anderson broke election laws and allowed these approximately 150 Floridians to vote by fax or email, The Associated Press reported.
“These are the stories that we know,” Gillum said. “Imagine the ones that we don’t.”
Meanwhile, Gillum along with Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson continue to call for all the votes to be counted in heavily Democratic Broward and Palm Beach counties, despite election officials in both missing state mandated deadlines in providing vote tallies.
President Donald Trump tweeted late last week, “Mayor Gillum conceded on Election Day and now Broward County has put him ‘back in play.’ Bill Nelson conceded Election — now he’s back in play!? This is an embarrassment to our County and to Democracy!”
Gillum responded, “What’s embarrassing to democracy is not counting every vote — and you, of course. Count every vote.”
What’s embarrassing to democracy is not counting every vote — and you, of course.
Count every vote. https://t.co/ZfrBBcymrg
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) November 9, 2018
Gillum added in another tweet, “Mr. @FLGovScott — counting votes isn’t partisan — it’s democracy.”
Republican Ron DeSantis currently has a lead of over 33,600 votes in the governor’s race, while Gov. Rick Scott leads Nelson by 12,512 votes.
Both races are currently in the midst of mandatory recounts.
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