The Florida Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to extend the Oct. 9 voter registration deadline by one week in areas to be affected by Hurricane Michael.
While Secretary of State Ken Detzner has already extended the deadline by a day via Directive 2018-03, that’s not enough for the FDP.
“Although the Secretary has proposed a single-day registration extension in some counties to accommodate a subset of voters affected by Hurricane Michael, his ‘solution’ is insufficient and confusing. It does not adequately protect the voting rights of Florida citizens who cannot register to vote by the October 9 registration deadline,” the lawsuit contends.
“Voters will face significant hurdles to registration because of the disruption caused by Hurricane Michael. Voters attempting to register online may face internet outages due to the storm,” the suit speculates.
“Thousands of eligible Florida voters who are complying with evacuation requests and preparing for the storm may not have the opportunity to register to vote as a result of Hurricane Michael. Governor Scott and Secretary Detzner have failed to adequately protect the rights of these eligible voters, and should extend the deadline one week in light of Hurricane Michael,” asserted FDP Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo.
As Tuesday progressed, state Rep. Amy Mercado and Carlos G. Smith and state Sen. Victor Torres released statements of support for the party’s stance.
“All that he is being asked to do is extend the voter registration deadline by one week, but so far Governor Scott is refusing to do the right thing,” Torres lamented.
Nikki Fried, the Democrats’ candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, drew parallels between this year and a hurricane that hit two years prior.
“We saw how a registration extension helped in 2016—over 100,000 Floridians registered to vote after the Hurricane, which hit during the first week of October. This situation is no different. Governor Scott should act, just as he did in 2016, and extend the voter registration deadline by one week,” Fried advised.
Thus far, there’s no indication that such action is imminent, pressure from Democrats and a group of left-leaning activist groups (“All Voting Is Local“) notwithstanding.
“Governor Scott is focused on keeping Floridians safe as a major hurricane rapidly approaches our state. Last night, the Governor directed the extension of the voter registration deadline for Supervisors of Elections who are forced to close because of Hurricane Michael. This means that each county will have the same amount of days to register voters,” asserted Scott spox John Tupps.
“The Governor believes that every eligible voter should be able to register to vote and Floridians can go online right now to do so. In fact, nearly 10,000 people have registered to vote online since midnight,” Tupps added.
Republican Party of Florida chair Blaise Ingoglia soon enough had the Governor’s back.
“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,” Ingoglia maintained.
“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,” Ingoglia added.
We will update if such condemnations are issued by the Tallahassee Mayor or the U.S. Senator.
Of the state’s 67 counties, 35 are under a state of emergency. These include Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa. Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay. Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Citrus, Bradford, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union and Baker.