Judge rules against voter registration deadline extension in the wake of Hurricane Michael

UPDATE (via the News Service Florida): A federal judge has rejected a request from the Florida Democratic Party to force the state to extend a voter-registration deadline because of Hurricane Michael.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle turned down the party’s request for a temporary restraining order to extend the registration deadline to Oct. 16, a week later than the original Tuesday deadline. The party contended an extension was needed because the hurricane, which devastated parts of the Panhandle on Wednesday, could prevent people from registering to vote in the Nov. 6 election.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner this week issued a directive authorizing county elections supervisors whose offices were closed Tuesday to accept paper registration applications on the day that their offices reopen. Detzner did not extend a Tuesday night deadline for voters to register online.

PREVIOUS STORY: The Florida Democratic Party is filing a lawsuit to extend voter registration deadline in the wake of Hurricane Michael.

On Tuesday morning, the Florida Democratic Party announced they they filed a lawsuit to extend the October 9th voter registration deadline in thh wake of Hurricane Michael, which is set to devastate prts of Florida's Panhandle. They say that if Secretary Ken Detzner does not extend the voter registration deadline in affected areas by one week, thousands of eligible voters will be disenfranchised.

The party claims that the complaint outlines the constitutional reasons for requesting the lawsuit, arguing that the 1st and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution are being violated. 

From the suit filed: "Although the Secretary has proposed a single-day registration extension in some counties to accommodate a subset of voters affected by Hurricane Michael, his “solution” is insufficient and confusing. It does not adequately protect the voting rights of Florida citizens who cannot register to vote by the October 9 registration deadline."

The lawsuit also states that "Voters will face significant hurdles to registration because of the disruption caused by Hurricane Michael. Voters attempting to register online may face internet outages due to the storm.

The Florida Democratic Party Chair, Terrie Rizzo, said that "Thousands of eligible Florida voters who are complying with evacuation requests and preparing for the storm may not have the opportunity to register to vote as a result of Hurricane Michael. Governor Scott and Secretary Detzner have failed to adequately protect the rights of these eligible voters, and should extend the deadline one week in light of Hurricane Michael. As Chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, we are encouraging people to listen to their elected leaders, ensure the safety of themselves and their families during the course of this Hurricane and we hope that Governor Scott and Secretary Detzner will comply with our requests, so that Floridians who are focused on keeping themselves safe are not unnecessarily prohibited from their constitutional right to vote."