A federal judge in Tallahassee has extended the deadline until Wednesday, for voter registration in Florida for the November 8th general election.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker granted the additional day, with a hearing set for Wednesday involving a temporary restraining order sought by the plaintiffs, and an extension of voter registration through at least October 18.
The Florida Democratic Party filed suit late Sunday to try to force state officials to extend today’s deadline for up to a week to allow residents who fled Hurricane Matthew to continue registering. But Scott had already signaled he was unlikely to do so.
“Everybody has had a lot of time to register,” said the Governor. “On top of that we’ve got lots of opportunities to vote. Early voting, absentee voting and Election Day, so I don’t intend to make any changes.”
Scott heads a super PAC supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Allison Tant chairs the Florida Democratic Party.
“As typical human nature, we don’t do what we are supposed to do until the deadlines are upon us,” Tant said. “So, we register tens of thousands of voters in the final few days of voter registration, and Hurricane Matthew stopped people from being able to register to vote.”
In the suit, lawyers for the Democratic Party argue it was unfair for Scott to warn residents to follow evacuation orders ahead of the storm, which thousands did, and then refuse to give people more time to register after the storm displaced them and forced government offices to close.
Escambia County Supervisor of Elections David Stafford’s office originally extended hours Tuesday from eight a.m. until seven p.m. to allow voters to register before the deadline, which in turn had been extended one day by Uncle Sam and Christopher Columbus.
“Florida has a 29-day period before an election where the election books close for that particular election,” said Stafford. “That technically fell on Monday the tenth, but because it was [Columbus Day], it pushed [it] until Tuesday the eleventh.”
In the meantime, it’s business as usual at the Escambia office and the other 66 in Florida.
“This is not overly unusual to see lawsuits filed as we get closer and closer to Election Day, on a myriad of issues at it relates to elections here in Florida,” Stafford said. “We’re just kind of used to it.”
The ruling also means registration forms arriving past the original Tuesday deadline have a chance of being valid.
“We know we’re going to get applications in on the twelfth, the thirteenth, the fourteenth,” Stafford said. “Normally they would be put on, but not activated until after the election. In theory, if an order was entered to extend that deadline, then that’s something that could be done.”
Okaloosa County Supervisor Paul Lux urges those not yet registered to vote, both eligible Floridians and those moving from out-of-state, to take advantage of the extra time.
“If you have moved to Florida in the last weeks or months, and you haven’t had a chance to register to vote yet, you cannot transfer that registration from another state into Florida,” said Lux. “You have to register brand new in Florida. Most of us have extended hours; take advantage of those and the extended time that the court gives.”
More information is available at your county’s supervisor of elections website.
In his 16-page decision, Judge Mark Walker said the idea of an extension being about politics is “poppycock.” The case, he continued, “is about the right of aspiring eligible voters to register and to have their votes counted. Walker added that “nothing could be more fundamental to our democracy.”