Florida election supervisors urge DeSantis to 'act immediately' to make voting safe amid pandemic

Florida election supervisors urge DeSantis to 'act immediately' to make voting safe amid pandemic
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Florida election supervisors are urging Gov. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida orders all schools to open next month despite surging COVID-19 cases Four Tampa-area hospitals at maximum ICU capacity Mayors blame federal, state officials for mixed messaging as coronavirus cases surge MORE (R) to take immediate action to help maintain safe voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, a bipartisan group that represents county-level elections supervisors, wrote a letter to DeSantis Wednesday urging him to take federal funds awarded to the state as part of a coronavirus relief bill, the Miami Herald reported

“I ... want to express my concern that Florida is lagging behind nearly every other state in securing CARES Act funding for elections,” Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer wrote in the letter, according to the Herald. “While we wait, the goods and services we need are becoming scarce.”

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Latimer was recently named the president of the association. The supervisors are asking DeSantis to “act immediately” to access the $20.2 million in federal funding for elections in the state, according to the Herald and The Sun Sentinel

Wednesday’s letter follows up on one the group reportedly sent in March asking the governor to help supervisors prepare for primary elections in August and the general election in November. 

An official for DeSantis’s office was not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Hill. 

The U.S. Election Commissioner, which is responsible for administering the funds, told the Herald the state legislature is responsible for administering the funds. 

“Florida can’t request disbursement until their state Legislature takes required action,” U.S. Election Assistance Commission communications director Kristen Muthig told the newspaper in an email.

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The Republican-controlled legislature in Florida finished its session in March, before the $2 trillion federal coronavirus relief bill that granted the funding became law, and the legislature has not yet been back in session, the Herald noted. 

Some Democratic lawmakers told the newspaper they believe DeSantis’s administration can request the funding without legislative action. 

“To my knowledge, I’m not aware of a single state that requested the funds that took legislative action to request the funds,” state Sen. Gary Farmer said on a press call, according to the Herald. “It would not surprise me that a federal agency under [President] Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Anderson Cooper: Trump's Bubba Wallace tweet was 'racist, just plain and simple' Beats by Dre announces deal with Bubba Wallace, defends him after Trump remarks Overnight Defense: DOD reportedly eyeing Confederate flag ban | House military spending bill blocks wall funding MORE would give that misdirection.”

Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Rodney Davis says most important thing White House can do on COVID-19 is give consistent messaging; US new cases surpass 50k for first time VA initiates process to remove headstones with Nazi symbols Overnight Defense: Trump extends deployment of National Guard troops to aid with coronavirus response | Pentagon considers reducing quarantine to 10 days | Lawmakers push for removal of Nazi headstones from VA cemeteries MORE (D) also said the governor can request the funds himself. 

“He should check with his budget folks because there is a budget commission that exists to deal with things like this that come up ... between legislative sessions,” Wasserman Schultz told the Herald. “I don’t believe there is a necessity for the Legislature to weigh in.”