Following Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) decision to ease voting restrictions in the areas most affected by Hurricane Ian, media outlets have accused DeSantis of politicizing voter access.
On Thursday (October 13), DeSantis signed an emergency executive order extending mail-in ballot access and early voting to the counties most impacted by the Category 4 hurricane. Charlotte, Lee, and Sarasota counties are selected in the order after “collective feedback of the Supervisors of Elections across the state” and “at the written requests” of the counties’ election supervisors.
Despite the order assisting tens of thousands of Floridian voters who have been displaced, the move has been criticized by some as they believe the voter assistance has political motivations for the midterm elections.
After the announcement was made, Washington Post reporter Lori Rozsa pointed out that the three counties to which the order applied are overwhelmingly Republican compared to counties damaged outside the perimeter.
In her piece, Rozsa pointed out that “More than 450,000 voters in Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota are registered as Republicans, compared with 265,000 Democrats and nearly 290,000 affiliated with no party.”
Elaborating that although Republicans outweigh Democrats in most of the counties affected by the hurricane, in “Orange County, where Hurricane Ian passed as a Category 1 storm and left historic flooding in Orlando and surrounding areas,” there are more Democrats than Republicans.
Gloria Oladipo, a reporter for the Guardian, made similar criticism, writing: “Governor Ron DeSantis has made voting easier in certain Florida counties battered by Hurricane Ian – but only Republican-leaning ones. DeSantis signed an executive order on Thursday that eases voting rules for about 1 million voters in Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota counties, all areas that Hurricane Ian hit hard and that all reliably vote Republican. Meanwhile, Orange County, a Democratic-leaning area which experienced historic flooding from the storm, received no voting exceptions.”
Other publications, including ABC News, and Politico, made similar observations, with MSNBC reporter Mehdi Hasan tweeting regarding the situation: “The hypocrisy is as astonishingly brazen as it is astonishingly galling.”