Florida Democrats Sue To Extend Voter Registration Deadline

Oct 9, 2018

The deadline to vote in November's general election was supposed to be Tuesday, but was pushed back a day in some Florida counties due to the approach of Hurricane Michael.

Now, the state Democratic Party is suing to move that deadline back at least a week to Oct. 16.

Late Monday night, Secretary of State Ken Detzner told local election supervisors that if their offices were closed on Tuesday than they could accept paper applications on the day that their office reopens. Dozens of counties closed their offices in advance of Hurricane Michael.

However, the lawsuit filed by the Florida Democratic Party called that solution "limited, confusing and inconsistent."

"People shouldn't be worrying about having to rush back to their homes early so they can get to their Supervisor of Elections office," said Sean Shaw, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General. "Extend the deadline a week and it doesn't hurt or help anybody too much. It is fair under the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution, it's the right thing to do and we've done it before."

He's referring to 2016, when a federal judge ordered the state to extend the registration deadline a week due to Hurricane Matthew. Tuesday's lawsuit was filed in the same court that issued the earlier ruling.

"People shouldn't be worrying about having to rush back to their homes early so they can get to their Supervisor of Elections office," said Sean Shaw, the Democratic canidate for Attorney General. "Extend the deadline a week and it doesn't hurt or help anybody too much. It is fair under the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution, it's the right thing to do and we've done it before."

He's reffering to 2016, when a federal judge ordered the state to extend the registration deadline a week due to Hurricane Matthew. Tuesday's lawsuit was filed in the same court that issued the earlier ruling.

"When they extended the deadline before, a lot of people used that extension to register," said Shaw. "The same thing will happen here, and of course both parties are claiming that we're in presidential year-level excitement and turnout."

The lawsuit points out that in the last two presidential elections, the number of late registrations was high -- 181,000 in the nine days prior to the 2012 deadline; 108,000 during the one week extension in 2016.

"(People) shouldn't be punished because they waited until this close to the deadline, there's still a deadline, which means (they're) still able to do it now," said Shaw.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia fired back in a statement Tuesday:

"It is absolutely reprehensible that the Florida Democrats would play political games on the eve of a potentially devastating hurricane, and waste taxpayer money by filing this lawsuit. Governor Scott's administration has already issued an order to keep voter registration open an extra day to accept paper registrations in the areas affected by the storm. Only an organization that is playing politics with people's lives would ask for voter registration to be extended by a full week in this state’s most densely populated Democrat areas, almost nine hours and a time zone away. The Republican Party of Florida calls on Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson to condemn this lawsuit and call it what it is...crony politics."

Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson this year, had been asked on Monday whether he would extend this year's deadline. Scott told reporters that state officials were considering it, but he pointed out that Florida now allows people to register to vote online.

Detzner noted that 40,000 people had used the online site in the last week to either register or update their registration.

But media reports have cited multiple people who say the site isn't working or they've experienced lengthy delays.

Florida had more than 13 million registered voters as of the end of August according to the state Division of Elections.

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