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Some of Florida's storm-damaged counties begin early voting

People voting on U.S. Election Day, Photo Date: 11/7/2017 / Photo: Ralph Northam / Twitter / (MGN)
People voting on U.S. Election Day, Photo Date: 11/7/2017 / Photo: Ralph Northam / Twitter / (MGN)
Published: Oct. 22, 2018 at 1:56 PM EDT
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By: Julie Montanaro | WCTV Eyewitness News

October 22, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Early voting is now underway across Florida, including in counties hit hard by Hurricane Michael.

An executive order issued last week by Governor Rick Scott gives those eight counties more flexibility to change the dates and locations of their early voting sites, as well as waive some of the rules for mail-in ballots.

The counties covered in that executive order are Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington.

Franklin County has delayed early voting in the hard-hit coastal community. The Supervisor of Elections Office says early voting will now start on Saturday, October 27 and last through November 5 at both the Supervisor of Elections Office in Apalachicola and the Courthouse Annex in Carrabelle. The hours will be extended from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Jackson County is also delaying its early voting. It’ll start October 27 and run through November 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, including Sundays. Those early voting sites are the Supervisor of Elections Office in Marianna, the Graceville Civic Center and Sneads City Hall.

Those three locations will also serve as Emergency Voting sites on Election Day. None of Jackson County’s regular polling places will be open that day.

“Some are damaged, some have no power and some are being used as distribution sites for relief supplies,” Jackson County Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Stephens said. “We’re just doing the best we can.”

Gadsden County has extended early voting through Monday, November 5 and had to change one of its early voting sites. Supervisor of Elections Shirley Green-Knight told us multiple trees fell on the Chattahoochee Recreation Center so the early voting site in town has been moved to the Chattahoochee Library.

“It’s slow, but it’s going,” Green-Knight said about turnout so far.

Early voting sites in Gadsden County include the Supervisor of Elections Office, Midway City Hall, the Havana Library and Chattahoochee Library.

Green-Knight is hoping to do another site check of all the Gadsden County polling places by the end of this week to make sure power has been restored and there is no damage that would prevent them from serving as polling places on election day.

Early voting has been extended through November 5 in Calhoun County at its sole early voting location, the Supervisor of Elections Office in Blountstown.

Calhoun County Supervisor of Elections Sharon Chason says, so far, 30 people have voted there.

“It’s fair. It’s steady,” Chason said. “However, we are getting a lot of requests for vote-by-mail ballots.”

Chason said mail service is back up and running in Calhoun County, but a lot of people no longer have mailboxes. So, they will have five locations on November 2 and 3 where folks can drop those ballots off with poll workers.

Hurricane Michael destroyed two polling places in Calhoun County. Chason says new polling places for Election Day itself have already been named for Altha and Kinard. Folks who normally vote at the Altha Community Center will vote at the new Altha High School Gymnasium instead. Folks who normally vote at the Kinard Library will have to vote at a makeshift polling place set up under tents on the library grounds.

Early voting is underway in Liberty County as well. Deputy Elections Supervisor Katelyn Stafford says they are not making any changes to their original early voting plans. Folks can vote early from now until November 3 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Liberty County Courthouse.

For more information on early voting in your county, click on the links below:

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