Because of the existing and continuing possibility of an emergency or common disaster occurring before or during a regularly scheduled or special election, and in order to ensure maximum citizen participation in the electoral process and provide a safe and orderly procedure for persons seeking to exercise their right to vote, generally to minimize to whatever degree possible a person’s exposure to danger during declared states of emergency, and to protect the integrity of the electoral process, it is hereby found and declared to be necessary to designate a procedure for the emergency suspension or delay and rescheduling of elections.
(1) The Governor may, upon issuance of an executive order declaring a state of emergency or impending emergency, suspend or delay any election. The Governor may take such action independently or at the request of the Secretary of State, a supervisor of elections from a county affected by the emergency circumstances, or a municipal clerk from a municipality affected by the emergency circumstances.
(2) The Governor, upon consultation with the Secretary of State, shall reschedule any election suspended or delayed due to an emergency. The election shall be held within 10 days after the date of the suspended or delayed election or as soon thereafter as is practicable. Notice of the election shall be published at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the affected area and, where practicable, broadcast as a public service announcement on radio and television stations at least 1 week prior to the date the election is to be held.
(3) The Division of Elections of the Department of State shall adopt, by rule, an elections emergency contingency plan, which shall contain goals and policies that give specific direction to state and local elections officials when an election has been suspended or delayed due to an emergency. The contingency plan shall be statewide in scope and shall address, but not be limited to, the following concerns:
(a) Providing a procedure for state and local elections officials to follow when an election has been suspended or delayed to ensure notice of the suspension or delay to the proper authorities, the electorate, the communications media, poll workers, and the custodians of polling places.
(b) Providing a procedure for the orderly conduct of a rescheduled election, whether municipal, county, district, or statewide in scope; coordinating those efforts with the appropriate elections official, and the members of the governing body holding such election, if appropriate; and working with the appropriate emergency management officials in determining the safety of existing polling places or designating additional polling places.
(c) Providing a procedure for the release and certification of election returns to the department for elections suspended or delayed and subsequently rescheduled under the provisions of ss. 101.731-101.74.