Words By: Rashad Stafford
Florida residents now have until October 18 to register to vote.
On Wednesday, US Federal Judge Mark Walker agreed to extend the voters registration for the sunshine state from its original October 11 deadline.
This comes after Governor Rick Scott originally refused to extend the deadline late last week.
“Everybody has had a lot of time to register,” Scott said at a press conference in Tallahassee. “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.”
The Florida Democratic Party asked for the extension after Hurricane Mathew left more than 1 million residents without power and evacuated from their homes for many days.
According to the Democrats, they were forced to cancel many of their planned registration drives throughout the state because of the storm causing them to miss out on thousands of new registered voters.
On Sunday, The Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against Scott arguing that he failed to extend the registration deadline for the same residents he ordered out the of the state.
“Many Floridians who would have registered to vote prior to the Oct. 11 registration deadline have been displaced or otherwise prevented from registering,” the lawsuit stated.
On Monday, Judge Walker granted a preliminary injunction order to extend the deadline for one day until the Wednesday morning hearing.
“Quite simply, it is wholly irrational in this instance for Florida to refuse to extend the voter registration deadline when the state already allows the governor to suspend or move the election date due to an unforeseen emergency,” Judge Walker wrote in Monday’s order.
On Wednesday morning, Judge Walker granted the residents of the battleground state an additional six days to register to vote.
The Florida Democratic Party were thrilled with Judge Walker’s decision saying it was a win for the people of Florida.
“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, Florida Democratic Party chairwoman.
Many resident throughout Florida were also appreciative of Judge Walker’s decision.
“I am so appreciative that I am now able to register,” said Miami resident Cortez Smith. “I just did not have the time to update my information with work and school and especially the storm. I’m just happy my voice will now be heard because this is an important election.”
Florida now joins South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, all states affected by Hurricane Mathew, in officially making alterations to original plans for unregistered voters.