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After granting a one-day extension while he reviewed Florida Democrats’ case for extending the state’s voter registration deadline, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker gave Floridians even more time to vote. The federal judge moved the crucial swing state’s registration deadline back six days, to next Tuesday, October 18.
With Hurricane Matthew lashing Florida’s east coast last week, Gov. Rick Scott—a Republican and active Donald Trump supporter—declined requests from Democrats, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president, to extend the deadline in order to accommodate residents. In response to Scott’s refusal, Democrats and pro-voting rights groups sued Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
With evacuation orders in place—Scott had warned residents that the storm “will kill you”—many Floridians’ lives were disrupted by the storm, and services remained closed even after the worst had passed. South Carolina extended its voter registration deadline in response to the storm and Georgia encouraged online registration—a service Florida does not offer.
On Monday, Judge Walker decided to extend the deadline by one day—to today, October 12—in order to have time to review and rule on the suit. Today, he handed down the six-day extension.
“While we wish it had not taken a lawsuit to get the Scott administration to do the right thing, today’s ruling is a major victory for all Floridians and for the democratic process in the Sunshine State,” said Allison Tant, the chair of Florida’s Democratic Party.
Scott, for his part, remains mum about the initial one-day extension and the longer one handed down by court order today. As of publication time, neither Scott’s twitter account nor his FaceBook page had mentioned to any of his constituents that they have more time to register.