Florida lawmakers and local community leaders have added their voices to a growing number of calls for the governor to push up the date for the special election to fill the seat left vacant due to the passing of Congressman Alcee Hastings.
On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis set the dates for the special primary election to take place Nov. 2 and the general election to take place Jan. 11.
“I think that puts qualifying [dates] towards the end of the first week of September,” said DeSantis.
At a news conference held Friday at the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office in Fort Lauderdale, critics said that decision leaves hundreds of thousands of Floridians unrepresented.
“This governor’s notion to put the election off is not baffling but is certainly infuriating,” said Marsha Ellison, President of the Fort Lauderdale-Broward branch of the NAACP. “What it does is it leaves more than 800,000 people, Florida residents, without representation for nine months.”
Critics also slammed the move as political and made in an effort to fight against the majority that the Democrats have in Congress.
“We should not have to stand here today to ask and beg the governor to change his mind and reset the tone of when voters have the opportunity to select who they want to represent them,” said Florida State Sen. Shevrin Jones.
Hastings passed away April 6, leaving an empty seat in Congress and no representation for District 20, according to critics.
District 20 includes parts of central Broward and north toward Palm Beach County.
“As of now, we have not officially received an order from the governor to hold a special election to replace [Hastings],” said Broward Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott.
Scott and Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Wendy Sartory Link have disagreed with the governor’s timeline.
“Earlier this week, there were some dates that were floated in another press conference that were dates that we strongly believe will not work for the community for a number of reasons,” said Scott.
Scott and community leaders on Friday reiterated the delay is politically motivated, leaving the Democratic hold on Congress with one less seat and leaving those in the blue stronghold district voiceless.
Among those who spoke at the news conference was Alcee “Jody” Hastings II, the late congressman’s son.
“My dad dedicated his entire life ensuring that the disenfranchised and underrepresented would have a voice,” he said. “If he were here today, he would be appalled that the governor would have the audacity to leave this seat open for nine months, to say the least.”
“Reschedule the election, the primary election for August 31 and November the 2nd,” said Healthcare Union Representative Cloreta Morgan. “This is the voice of the people. This is the message for you, Governor DeSantis. Act accordingly.”
The group of community leaders have sent a letter to DeSantis asking for a change of date for the special election.
7News has reached out to DeSantis for a comment, but as of Friday night we have not yet received a response.