How do you cast a vote on Election Day if your polling place is roofless, flooded, surrounded by fallen trees, or worse, has been reduced to a pile of rubble? How do people who evacuated from their hometowns because of a dangerous hurricane obtain absentee ballots when they’re bouncing between hotels and relatives’ houses out of state?

These are just some of the questions residents of Florida’s panhandle are asking with recovery efforts still under way in many areas after Hurricane Michael ravaged the state last week. The storm made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm, passing through Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia afterward. The death toll in those states has risen to 32, nearly half of whom were in Florida’s Bay County.

Elections supervisors in affected counties are piecing together new plans to conduct the upcoming midterm election. Still, conditions caused by the storm may have an impact in close statewide elections, such as the gubernatorial race, come November 6. Politico’s Marc Caputo notes that 11 counties in the panhandle that were hit by the storm are reliably Republican and are home to 465,000 of the swing state’s 13 million active registered voters. It’s not the first time a natural disaster has threatened to interfere with an election—in 2012, Hurricane Sandy created similar challenges on the East Coast.

In response to logistical questions raised by local officials, Gov. Rick Scott, who is currently running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Bill Nelson, signed an executive order on Thursday to give supervisors of elections in eight affected counties—Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty, and Washington—more flexibility in order to respond to the challenges posed by the storm.

“With the General Election less than three weeks away, this unprecedented storm has impacted the normal operations of administering an election in counties that were hit hardest,” the Florida State Department said in a statement on Thursday morning. Among the allowances made by Scott’s executive order, supervisors of elections in the affected counties will be able to extend the days allotted for early voting, establish alternative voting locations, and send absentee ballots to different addresses than voters’ listed homes.

“The Department shares the Governor’s commitment to ensuring that all registered voters from counties devastated by Hurricane Michael are able to exercise their right to vote safely and securely in the upcoming General Election,” Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said in the statement. “With the input from local Supervisors of Elections, we put forth recommendations to Governor Scott and we greatly appreciate the Governor’s support of our requests.”

On Monday, Detzner met with elections supervisors in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties, his office told THE WEEKLY STANDARD. “I saw firsthand the devastation Hurricane Michael brought to these areas and my heart goes out to them,” he said. Still, how the state government would handle the matter had been unclear.

Throughout the week, different counties slowly rolled out their revised election plans. Gulf County elections supervisor John Hanlon was the first to put forward a strategy, as his county was among the hardest hit by the storm. Gulf has established two super centers from which to conduct all voting, from early voting through Election Day. Normal polling places, many of which were damaged or destroyed, will not be open.

Hanlon also wrote that he would allow displaced voters to request absentee ballots to be emailed to them, which voters would then be able to fax back along with the signed voter’s certificate. The Florida Department of State appeared to rule out this approach, writing in its statement Thursday that emailed absentee ballots were not included in Scott’s executive order. “In the hardest hit areas, communication via phone, fax and email remains challenging and would be an unreliable method for returning ballots. Additionally, past attempts by other states to allow voters impacted by natural disasters to fax or email ballots have been rife with issues,” the department said.

In Bay County, one of the most populous and heavily hit of the affected counties, a similar election plan is in the works, which would allow for five mega voting sites. The precise locations of some of those sites have not been specified, though, and other details are still up in the air as officials seek to determine whether potential buildings are usable. Bay County’s Supervisor of Elections office, which was left essentially roofless and flooded by the hurricane, is difficult to contact, as internet, electricity, and phone service are still down in most areas.

“Do not wait until the last day to vote,” Bay County elections supervisor Mark Andersen told Panama City’s News 13 on Wednesday. Andersen said that his goal is to spread out the voting, which begins on October 27. “Please, not everyone cannot wait until the last minute, or there will be a very, very long line on Election Day,” he urged.

Franklin County, which suffered much less damage, has had to make changes as well, elections supervisor Heather Riley told TWS in a phone call. “We fared really well here,” she said. Riley noted that none of the county’s polling places were damaged, but a road that leads to one of them sustained severe damage, so that location had to be moved.

She indicated that contacting voters about such changes can be challenging during disaster conditions, which is why she plans to not only send letters to inform voters of the matter, but also to take out newspaper and radio advertisements, update the official website, and to post a notice at the physical location. Despite these efforts, Riley said, “I’m assuming, and we're preparing for a little lower turnout at the polls.”