Political Scientist: Shame On Gov. Scott For Not Extending Voter Registration

Oct 7, 2016

Governor Rick Scott says he won’t extend the state’s voter registration deadline because of Hurricane Matthew. That decision is attracting criticism from one Florida political scientist.

Credit State of Florida, Meredyth Hope Hall

Hurricane Matthew has spurred evacuations across the state and cut power to more than 1 million people, with just days left before the October 11th voter registration deadline. But Governor Rick Scott has declined to give Floridians extra time to register, despite pushback from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

"Everybody has had a lot of time to register," Scott said.

But University of Florida political scientist Daniel Smith argues Governor Scott’s decision not to extend the window could keep thousands of Floridians off the voter rolls. During the 2012 general election, 50,000 Floridians registered in the last five days.

"And about 75% of those individuals actually cast ballots in the 2012 general election,” Smith said.

Smith says Scott can't control the path of Hurricane Matthew, but he can give voters more time.

“This is a non-partisan issue, that people who register at the last minute should have that ability and shouldn’t have a natural disaster affect their ability to have the franchise,” Smith said.

Smith argues Scott is forcing Floridians to choose between responding to Hurricane Matthew, or registering to vote.