On today's BradCast: It has been nearly two weeks since Hurricane Ian slammed the great state of Florida, leaving behind a swath of destruction across much of the state. Midterm elections, meanwhile, are now just 4 weeks away, but FL's chief elections official --- its Governor, Ron DeSantis --- has yet to approve a plan for how to carry them out amid the rubble. [Audio file to full program follows this summary.]
Last week, Tommy Doyle, Supervisor of Elections in Lee County, home to Fort Myers, the hardest hit part of the state, released a proposal to extend early voting at 12 sites, turning them into Voting Centers where anyone in the County can vote from October 24 through Election Day on November 8. That, in place of the County's normal 97 community precincts, many of which were blown entirely away by Hurricane Ian.
But, according to our guest today, DeSantis has yet to respond to Doyle's proposal, despite the fact that much of the country is already voting in the critical midterms, while many Florida residents do not even have a mailbox left to send vote-by-mail ballots to. Furthermore, as our guest today --- a legendary former Election Supervisor in FL's Leon County (which includes the state capital of Tallahassee) --- notes, allowing the expansion of early voting and use of Voting Centers is now illegal in the state, despite a similar plan to hold elections carried out just after Hurricane Michael in 2018.
The great ION SANCHO, who retired in 2016 after nearly 30 years as Leon County's elections chief, joins us today to detail the very serious --- I would say, critical --- mess the state is currently in when it comes to carrying out the upcoming midterms. DeSantis, a Republican, happens to be running for re-election this year against the Democratic nominee, former Governor Charlie Crist. There is also a very tight race between incumbent GOP Senator Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger Rep. Val Demings.
Sancho notes that Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in a rural area of the state's panhandle, ended up decreasing turnout there by about 8% in 2018. But Ian hit one of the state's most densely populated areas. "It's a terrible situation," Sancho tells us, describing how "most of the precinct sites have been destroyed." Supervisor Doyle, he explains, has plans to run Voting Centers in Lee County "all the way through Election Day with expanded hours, which is illegal in Florida. You may not have early voting, for example, or a Vote Center open on Monday, or on Election Day."
Many of these problems come thanks to the state GOP's newly discovered hatred for absentee voting and other restrictions on voting passed after 2020 to make it more difficult to do so. Many of the suggestions for how to carry out the elections after Ian are the same as those carried out after an order signed by Gov. Rick Scott following Michael. But now, says Sancho, "we are all on pins and needles. Governor Scott issued his executive order giving the Supervisor of Elections expanded authority to deal with his voters eight days after the hurricane hit. We are now on Day 12 and Governor DeSantis has not told any Supervisor anything."
There are also political considerations likely in play for DeSantis. "He's in a pickle. He needs to provide expanded voting access, and that is made more critical by the fact that the areas that were hit were 2-to-1 Republican over Democrat," Sancho says. "The best that we can hope for is he gives the Supervisor of Elections the same kind of flexibility as Governor Scott gave the Supervisors in the Panhandle to deal with Michael. But [DeSantis] may be loathe to do that because it means he has to recant some of the things that he did this past legislative session."
It's not only Lee County where election plans have been rocked, Sancho explains. "I would count at least 9 counties. It caused a swath of destruction across the state. This is a huge number of voters." Nonetheless, early voting is supposedto begin in the Sunshine State in just two weeks. Whether that can happen remains anyone's guess at this hour. Tune in today for much more on this.
Also on today's show...
- We got our latest COVID boosters on Friday (and Flu shots along with them, just to up the ante.) How did they go? Tune in to find out. Suffice to say, my experience was, once again, very different from Desi's. But, if you haven't gotten a COVID shot lately, now is not a moment too soon to protect yourself and everyone else from the likely autumn/winter surge.
- An explosion on the only bridge between Russian-annexed Crimea and the Russian mainland collapsed a portion of it over the weekend, and Russia's main military supply line to its war of aggression against sovereign Ukraine in the south along with it. In response today, Russia's Vladimir Putin doubled down on his many war crimes to date by launching another massive missile strike against nearly a dozen densely populated civilian areas, include Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.
- Finally, from the war between autocracy and democracy oversees, to the same (if, so far, less bloody) conflict here at home. If they are Republican and on the 2022 ballot, chances are they are a denier of Joe Biden's 2020 Presidential election victory and/or will vote against certification of the next Presidential election if a Democrat is established once again to be the legitimate winner. Many GOP candidates across the country have been shifting their public positions on Trump's evidence-free claims of a stolen 2020 election following the primaries, in hopes of trying to fool more mainstream general election voters. But, don't be fooled. Some, like Mark Finchem, Arizona's GOP nominee for Secretary of State nominee, even claims to be an opponent now of vote-by-mail. ("I don't care for mail-in voting. That's why I go to the polls," he lied at a recent debate, before a public records search revealed last week that he has voted by mail in every election since 2004, and only voted in person this year for the first time since then.)
A Washington Post analysis last week found "A majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the House, Senate and key statewide offices" are, in fact, election deniers and "running in every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in three states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races The Post examined." That includes critical roles --- such as Governors and Secretaries of State --- responsible for certifying the 2024 Presidential election. We share some of the evidence of those lying, dishonest candidates and their deceptively shifting position presented a threat to American democracy, on today's program...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)