The Slatest

Florida Governor Refuses to Extend Next Week’s Voter Registration Deadline Despite Catastrophic Hurricane

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, ahem, delivers a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has told millions of people in his state to evacuate their homes as the state looks down the barrel of the potentially catastrophic Hurricane Matthew that is expected to make landfall early Friday morning. The impact of the storm could last well through Election Day. Florida is obviously an important state this and every presidential election. Even still, the Republican governor told reporters Thursday that despite the upheaval, next week’s Oct. 11 voter registration deadline will not be moved to accommodate as-of-yet unregistered potential voters who may be affected by the storm.

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“I’m not going to extend it,” the governor told reporters Thursday. “Everybody has had a lot of time to register. On top of that, we have lots of opportunities to vote: early voting, absentee voting, Election Day. So I don’t intend to make any changes.” Really? The appropriate response, instead of dismissing the idea out of hand, would be to say: “We’re going to do our best to make sure everyone is safe and sound and everyone who wants to get to vote has that chance. We’ll evaluate what, if any, changes need to be made once we’re through this.”

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Or try replacing “voter registration deadline” with “tax deadline” and see how people react. Or with “final exam.” People have jobs and lives and, you know, need a deadline to do things. If you think that last-minute registration isn’t a thing or doesn’t affect a significant group of people, you’re wrong. “Elections supervisors typically see a surge in voter interest immediately before the registration closes,” according to the Miami Herald. “About 50,000 people registered during the final five days in 2012, according to University of Florida professor Daniel A. Smith, who studies Florida voting trends.”

The Clinton campaign requested the extension because it is currently in overdrive trying to register Americans to participate and vote, which is usually considered good, admirable civic work. The Trump campaign is, well, the Trump campaign. By contrast, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley extended her state’s registration deadline Thursday.

Read more Slate coverage of Hurricane Matthew.

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