Governor Rick Scott Won't Extend the Voter Registration Deadline

October 7th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is being accused of voter suppression (again) after he declined to extend the state's voter registration deadline — in spite of the fact that Hurricane Matthew forced hundreds of thousands of Florida residents to evacuate their home less than a week before the deadline.


Scott, a staunch supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, said on Friday that "[e]verybody has had a lot of time to register" and denied that his relationship to Trump influenced his decision. Voting rights advocates argue that the decision amounts to voter disenfranchisement.

"What is the harm in extending voter registration in these areas?" Barbara Goodman, president of the Florida League of Women Voters, told NBC News. "If he continues to stand on this ground, we do see it as voter suppression."

Research shows that hurricanes can have adverse impacts on voter turnout and decrease the availability of polling stations, especially for low-income Americans and minorities (groups that tend to vote Democrat). After Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in 2012, for example, voter turnout dropped an average of about 3 percent in countries where disaster declarations were issued, The Washington Post reported. In all other counties in the U.S., turnout only declined by 0.8 percent.

Also, the three Florida countries most seriously affected by Hurricane Matthew are considered "Democratic strongholds," and because the race between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is tight in the swing state, some are crying foul on Scott's motives for keeping the Tuesday deadline.

About 86,000 Florida residents registered to vote in the week before the deadline in 2012, according to University of Florida professor Dan Smith. Of those late-registration voters, 40 percent were Democrat and 21 percent were Republican. What's more, the demographic groups that register late have been historically left-leaning. Here's more from the NBC News report:

"They're often people of lower socioeconomic status, who didn't register at the DMV because they don't have cars or drive. Or they're young voters who didn't make registration a priority. Or they're newly-naturalized citizens who didn't want to wait in line to register to vote after their naturalization ceremony. In short, likely Democratic voters."

ATTN: called Scott's office for a comment and a representative asked us to email our inquiry. We haven't received a response to that inquiry but will update this story when we hear back.