Florida federal District Judge Mark Walker issued an order extending the deadline to register to vote Tuesday after Hurricane Matthew shut down businesses and government offices statewide.
“Other states ravished by Hurricane Matthew extended their registration deadline to protect voters,” Walker said in the order. “In fact, fifteen other states, including, for example, Iowa, even allow registration on Election Day. It is incomprehensible that Florida could not follow suit.”
“These voters have already had their lives (and, quite possibly, their homes) turned upside down by Hurricane Matthew,” Walker added. “They deserve a break, especially one that is mandated by the United States Constitution.”
The decision reverses a prior decision from Florida Gov. Rick Scott not to extend the deadline. “Everybody has had a lot of time to register,” Scott told reporters last Thursday. “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.”
The Florida Democratic Party formally sued Scott after the statement, in a move that was legally ambiguous because state law doesn’t explicitly grant Scott the right to move voter registration deadlines.
A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the possibility of extending the deadline past Oct 12.
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