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Judge extends Florida voter registration deadline

By Eric DuVall
Judge extends Florida voter registration deadline
Supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hold up signs at a rally with former Vice President Al Gore in Miami on Tuesday. A federal judge extended Florida's voter registration deadline by one week after the disruption caused by Hurricane Matthew. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Oct. 12 (UPI) -- A federal judge extended Florida's voter registration deadline for one week after Democrats sued Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who refused to move the deadline despite the disruption caused by Hurricane Matthew.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker announced his decision after a one-hour hearing in a Tallahassee courtroom, during which attorneys for Scott and Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner did not contest Democrats' arguments.

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In addition to the Florida Democratic Party, the American Civil Liberties Union and League of Women Voters joined the suit to get the deadline pushed back.

Walker ruled that Floridians endured a substantial disruption after more than 1 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes as Matthew approached in the days leading up to the Tuesday registration deadline.

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"Hopefully it's not lost on anyone that it's the right to have a voice that is why this country exists," Walker said after issuing his ruling.

Though Florida law allows a governor to extend election deadlines in the event of an emergency, Scott refused to do so, saying, "I think everyone's had enough time to register."

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Democrats said Scott's decision made plans for a large voter registration drive ahead of the deadline impossible across much of the state because most public events where the effort was to take place were canceled and volunteers were among those displaced by the storm.

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Walker's decision came after he issued a temporary one-day extension in voter registration to Wednesday in order to allow for the hearing to take place. Voters will now have until Tuesday to register in time to vote in the Nov. 8 election.

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