Storm Brewing Over FL Voter Registration as Hurricane Michael Approaches

[Image via myhighplains]

The State of Florida is preparing for landfall of Hurricane Michael – and the forecast is triggering an election storm as well as calls emerge for the state to extend its Tuesday voter registration deadline. WSTP has more:

The deadline to register to vote in Florida remains Tuesday, Oct. 9, despite the calls of some Democrats to move the date because of Hurricane Michael.

A person wanting to register for the November midterm election has until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday online, end of business in person or postmarked by Oct. 9 if their registration is mailed, according to the Florida Department of State.

However, any county election office closed Tuesday is allowed to accept paper registration applications on the next day the office reopens, according to a directive from Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

“This will ensure that each Supervisor of Elections Office has the same amount of days to register voters at their offices,” the directive reads, in part.

The online deadline remains the same.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, asked Gov. Rick Scott’s office to extend the voter registration deadline past Tuesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

In a letter, the Florida Democratic Party asked Scott and Detzner to advance the date because, “The impending hurricane will adversely impact the ability of these eligible, but unregistered, individuals who may have waited until the last day in order to register to vote.”

Gov. Rick Scott, speaking during a briefing at the Pasco County Emergency Operations Center, remained noncommittal at changing the deadline.

“We’re still looking at that,” Scott said. “Everybody can register online, which you weren’t able to do that before.”

Nelson, an incumbent senator, remains in a tight U.S. Senate race with Scott, who seeks to unseat him.

If this dispute sounds familiar, it’s because it also happened in 2016, when a federal judge ordered the State of Florida to extend its deadline because of Hurricane Matthew. This year’s debate takes on added significance because of the U.S. Senate race, which will undoubtedly feature prominently in any discussion of what to do next. Most importantly, though, here’s hoping that everyone in the storm’s path stays safe – but don’t be surprised to see litigation over this issue as Michael prepares to make landfall. Hunker down – and stay tuned …

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