Florida Governor Rick Scott said Thursday that he would not extend the voter enrollment deadline in the wake of Hurricane Matthew and voting rights groups are not happy. “>
GOP Gov. Rick Scotts announcement that registration deadlines wont be extended for Florida voters despite a deadly hurricane is making Category 5 outrage from voting rights groups who are warning against what they see as de facto voter suppression.
As Hurricane Matthew approached, a Florida elections officer told The Daily Beast that the number one priority is citizen safety and protecting lives, and didn’t want to theorize about how the hurricane might affect voting in the state. But Scott objective any doubt by proclaiming late Thursday evening that he would not be expand the deadline.
Everybody has had a lot of time to register, Scott told the press during a briefing on the blizzard. On top of that, weve got lots of opportunities to vote: Early voting, absentee voting and Election Day. So, I dont intend to make any changes.
The response came after Hillary Clintons campaign manager, Robby Mook, told reporters on a conference call that their campaign hoped Florida would extend the deadline due to the circumstances.
The backlash from voting rights groups was swift, and advocates wondered if Scotts decision had more to politics than his commitment to the people of Florida. Scott is the co-chair of a super PAC that supports Trumps election.
Florida will not have online voter registration until 2017, meaning that voters need to mail in their registration or deliver it to a government office in personboth which are options limited by the hurricane. Extended deadlines typically benefit groups that are less likely to have already registered, such as young and minority voters.
This storm has no partisan intentions and severely affects all voters, and potential voters, in very large counties in our country. The Governor shut down coastal communities for two business days, rightfully alerting people this storm was life threatening. It is only fair that he use his same powerful voice and power to widen voter enrollment for the same amount of days, argued Pamela Goodman, president of the Floridas League of Women Voters. Do the right thing again, Governor Scott, and ensure every Florida citizen has the right to vote in this extremely important election.
South Carolina, which is reliably Republican and is not a swaying nation, ran the opposite direction on Thursday, announcing that it would widen voter registration deadlines by two days due to the closes of government offices caused by Hurricane Matthew.
Judged against the actions of his peers, Governor Scotts decision is out of line with what good governmental administration should provide, said Anita Earls, the executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, which works on voter rights issues.
Supporters of Scotts decision may say that the deadline of Tuesday, Oct. 11 is set out in country statute, and the law doesnt explicitly awarded the governor the authority to change the deadline.
But in what could set up a legal challenge, voting rights advocates argue that the broad masses of the emergency powers of the governor in Florida extend to issuing such an extension, and that Florida law calls for ensuring maximum citizen participate and allows for the lag of elections due to a state of emergency.
Extending the voter registration deadline would ensure maximum citizen participation in the election, offer a safe and orderly procedure for people seeking to workout their right to election, and would minimise the danger to which person seeking to register would expose themselves, argued Goodman.
The decision on whether or not to extend the voter registration deadline is not trivialpolls depict a nail-biter of a race in Florida, with the Clinton up by merely 3.2 percentage points in the RealClearPolitics polling average. And of course, Florida was its most important state that determined the outcome of the contentious 2000 presidential campaign, in which President Bush won by simply 537 votes.
Approximately 50,000 Floridians registered to vote during the last five days of voter enrollment in 2012, said Earls.
Its not surprising that Rick Scott did not heed the call to extend voter registration. He has consistently worked to limit voting rights, especially for Black and Latinos. He has been clear that this hurricane was a grave and serious matter, and ordered everybody everywhere to evacuate, said Gihan Perera, the executive director of The New Florida Majority, a voting rights group. NewFlorida Majority, like people across the nation, stopped our last upsurge of voter registration to heed the warns and make sure that all our people were safe. If there was any style to extend the deadline, that would be a natural thing to do, given the circumstances.