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Judge extends Florida voter registration deadline until October 18

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(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In a victory for the Florida Democratic Party, a federal judge agreed Wednesday to extend voting registration in the state until October 18 because of the impact of Hurricane Matthew.

Judge Mark E. Walker, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, granted a preliminary injunction to the Florida Democratic Party and other groups who had argued that voter registration needed to be moved because of the effects of the storm, which raked along the Eastern Coastline for several days. The original deadline was Tuesday, but the judge had temporarily moved it to Wednesday so that he could hold a hearing on the matter.

Marc Elias — an attorney for the Florida Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign — had argued in court papers that Florida voters faced a “daunting, and indeed, life threatening obstacle” to register to vote because of Hurricane Matthew. He said “a massive and dangerous weather event that has threatened Florida with substantial damage and loss of life.”

Last week, Republican Gov. Rick Scott told reporters he didn’t “intend to make changes,” saying “people have had time to register.”

“We’ll now be able to make up for lost time and help register people whose lives were disrupted by the storm,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “Our goal is to help every Floridian register, vote, and be heard, and we’re grateful that the storm did not silence their voices.”

“Federal law requires the state to provide voters with enough time to register before the election,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “With this extension, more citizens will be able to exercise their most fundamental right in our democracy.