Floridians now have until the end of the day Tuesday October 18 to get signed up to vote. A federal judge Wednesday extended the state’s voter registration deadline.
As Hurricane Matthew made its way toward Florida and state officials encouraged residents to evacuate, voting rights activists began pushing for a voter registration extension. But Florida Governor Rick Scott denied those requests, saying Floridians already had enough time to register. That didn’t sit well with Bay County League of Women Voters President Cecile Scoon.
“We were very, very concerned with the governor’s statement that everyone had enough time to register when he was the very one who was protecting lives and asking people to leave. We felt since it came out of his mouth, to tell people to leave their homes and leave their businesses and the different offices where people could register were shut—it came from him. It should have come from him to allow people to have the extension to register,” Scoon said.
The league filed a lawsuit asking a judge to extend the voter registration deadline, as did the Florida Democratic Party. Some claimed both the party and Scott were playing politics. But Democratic party lawyer Kevin Hamilton says that’s not the case.
“Look it’s about a storm. There was a lot of damage, I’m not going to get into casting aspersions on people’s motives. I think that the storm caused a lot of damage obviously and impaired people’s ability to register to vote and that’s what we needed to address,” Hamilton said.
Experts say history shows many Floridians tend to wait until the last days to get signed up to vote. In 2012, thousands of voters registered in the last few days before the deadline. Voting rights activists expect the extended deadline this year to allow thousands more people to get signed up.