The Slatest

Federal Judge Overrules Florida’s Republican Governor, Extends State Voter Registration

Florida Gov. Rick Scott visits a damaged beach in St. Augustine, Florida, on Oct. 8, after Hurricane Matthew passed the area.

Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

A federal court stepped in and extended the voter registration deadline in Florida on Monday, after more than 1 million people were ordered to evacuate last week before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. Florida Gov. Rick Scott had denied requests to extend the deadline last Thursday, ahead of the storm, saying: “Everybody has had a lot of time to register.” The Florida Democratic Party sued on Sunday asking that the Oct. 11 deadline be extended by a week. The court extended the deadline by one day to Wednesday, Oct. 12 at 5 p.m.


Here’s what Judge Mark Walker wrote in his decision:

This case pits the fundamental right to vote against administrative convenience. Of course, the State of Florida has the ability to set its own deadlines and has an interest in maintaining those deadlines. But it would be nonsensical to prioritize those deadlines over the right to vote, especially given the circumstances here. Other states ravished by Hurricane Matthew extended their registration deadline to protect voters… It is incomprehensible that Florida could not follow suit.

“It has been suggested that the issue of extending the voter registration deadline is about politics. Poppycock,” Judge Walker’s decision reads. “This case is about the right of aspiring eligible voters to register and to have their votes counted. Nothing could be more fundamental to our democracy.”