After the massive storm of Hurricane Matthew, which led residents of Florida to flee their homes and state, the government felt it was necessary to extend the deadline for Florida residents to register to vote.
The registration date was extended to October 18th, by Mark Walker, a U.S. District Judge in Tallahassee. Court records show that a lawsuit was filed by Florida’s Democratic Party to have more time. Officially, the last day to register to vote would have been Tuesday. A one-day reprieve was ordered by Judge Walker, so that they would have time for a hearing on Wednesday.
The argument of Florida Democrats was that the voters had been forced to either leave for safety or stay in the state and vote. Mandatory evacuation was ordered by Rick Scott, a Republican Governor. This was along the state’s Atlantic coast, as the state prepared for Hurricane Matthew to approach.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Walker stated that having a voice in the elections is one of the most important rights that a citizen should have. There were no immediate comments, from the governor’s office, involving the judge’s order. When it comes to the presidential election, Florida remains to be one of the primary states. Currently, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are neck-to-neck in the state.
Outside of putting voting rights on hold, about 1,000 people were killed in Haiti from Matthew. The hurricane is claimed to be responsible for 30 additional deaths, which took place in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. There are still flood warnings being issued by North Carolina officials, due to swollen rivers.
Statistics show that 20% of all Florida registrations were one week prior to the deadline, in previous presidential elections. This is one of the key reasons that a lawsuit was filed. Overall, the Florida Democratic Party was happy about the successful decision. They did not want to take it to filing a lawsuit, but they knew what was most important for the citizens of Florida.
South Carolina was another state that was forced to extend their registration deadline, following the damage of Hurricane Matthew. Instead of October 7th, the deadline to register was October 11th. An extension in the State of Georgia was declined. There were no plans by North Carolina’s Governor, Pat McCrory to extend their registration deadline, which will be Friday.