New Extension For Florida Voter Registration
Due to the disruption and damage from Hurricane Matthew a federal judge has extended voter registration for six more days in Florida.
During a hearing early Wednesday morning, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker extended the deadline until October 18th.
The first deadline extension was originally set for one day, after the Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against Governor Rick Scott.
Jackie Schutz, Scott’s spokeswoman, said on Tuesday that the state would accept the court’s decision on the deadline.
Florida’s Voter Registration Deadline Extended
A federal court has extended Florida’s voter registration deadline by one day. The deadline would have been today, but now Floridians have until 5 p.m. Wednesday due to Hurricane Matthew’s disruption of last-minute sign-ups.
The ruling comes after Florida Democrats sued Governor Rick Scott, seeking an additional week due to the “strong likelihood” that many of Florida’s voters would be “severely burdened” by the hurricane’s fallout in the upcoming election.
Scott had opposed the extension.
Judge Mark E. Walker set a hearing for Wednesday to decide whether the deadline should be further extended beyond Wednesday.
“Hurricane Matthew not only forced many of those voters to evacuate the state, but also foreclosed the only methods of registering to vote: in person or by mail,” Walker wrote, per CNN. “Because those aspiring eligible voters could not register, they could not vote in the upcoming election. As a result, Florida’s statutory framework completely disenfranchises thousands of voters, and amounts to a severe burden on the right to vote.”
Democrats Sue Gov. Rick Scott Over Voter Registration
On Sunday Florida Democrats filed a lawsuit against Florida Governor Rick Scott asking that the voter registration deadline be extended by one week due to disruptions caused by Hurricane Matthew.
The voter registration deadline is this Tuesday and Democrats are seeking to extend the new deadline to Oct. 18th. Democrats went to the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee and cited Scott’s demands on Thursday of last week that coastal residents flee the approaching storm and his refusal to extend the deadline that day.
“Defendant Scott refused to extend the voter registration deadline for the very citizens heeding his orders to evacuate — forcing voters to choose between their safety and the safety of their families, on one hand, and their fundamental right to vote, on the other hand,” the lawsuit states, per the Tampa Bay Times. “Many Floridians who would have registered to vote prior to the Oct. 11 registration deadline have been displaced or otherwise prevented from registering.”
Scott, the chairman of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s super PAC, refused Hillary Clinton campaign’s request to extend Tuesday’s voter-registration deadline in Florida last week. He claims people had enough time to register to vote beforehand.
“Everybody has had a lot of time to register. On top of that, we have lots of opportunities to vote: early voting, absentee voting, Election Day. So I don’t intend to make any changes,” said Scott.
The suit notes that Floridian’s rights under the Voting Rights Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendment are being violated by Scott’s decision.
Scott’s office said it was reviewing the lawsuit. The lawsuit also names Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the state’s chief elections official, as a defendant.
How This Affects The Presidential Election
With Scott’s refusal to extend the deadline, thousands of potential voters might not be able to register to cast ballots for this presidential election. Via statistical references, many of those unable to register might be Democrats or those who favor Democratic candidates.
Those thousands of potential voters could have an outsize impact on the election with Florida being such a close race.
In a recent NBC News report, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in a two-point edge of 46 percent to 44 percent. Though these polls were conducted before the release of audio of Trump speaking in 2005 about groping and kissing women.
Still it is a close call in Florida and an extended registration deadline could make a world of difference in this race.