Florida Election Official Gets Ovation from Other Election Officials After Describing How He Broke Florida Law in Accepting Email and Faxed Ballots After Hurricane

I understand the desire to enfranchise voters, but this is really troubling:

The county election office lost a section of its roof and the building flooded. Anderson and others lived there for two days without working bathrooms. Political signs were used to push water out of the building. Critical servers were taken apart, dried by sunshine and cleaned with toothbrushes while they waited for rescue crews to reach them.

Anderson compared the isolation and conditions to Gilligan’s Island. They finally emerged only to find total devastation around them. The main thoroughfare, Highway 98, was covered in downed trees, powerlines and the remnants of the businesses that once lined the street.

Destruction aside, how could they manage an election? Polling locations were destroyed. Cell phone service was spotty. The postal service was down. One employee of 37 years lost her home yet still showed up to help, Anderson recalled, choking back tears.

It was under these conditions that Anderson said he made choices that ran afoul of state laws for administering elections, like setting up alternative polling locations in churches, a no-no, and why he defied a direct order from the state not to allow votes by email or fax.

Anderson previously told the Times/Herald that 11 ballots were accepted by email and 147 ballots were domestically faxed in.

“What would someone else do? The same cotton pickin’ thing I did,” Anderson said. “Find a way.”

Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order Oct. 18 that allowed elections supervisors in eight hurricane-hit counties — Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty and Washington — to extend early voting days and designate more early voting locations.

Calhoun County, for example, opened a polling location in a tent set up by the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the county’s supervisor Sharon Chason said Wednesday. Anderson opened what he called “mega voting sites” throughout the county that where voters could cast a ballot Oct. 27 through Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

But Scott’s order did not allow for votes to be returned by email or fax.

“Voting by fax or email is not an option under the Executive Order,” the Florida Department of State stated in a news release that accompanied Scott’s order.


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