In the battleground state, the prospect of mass voter disenfranchisement loomed over the election when the governor last week refused to extend the voter registration deadline as Hurricane Matthew made its way towards the state. Despite the fact that government offices had closed, postal services were shut down, and Scott had urged residents to leave because “this storm will kill you,” he denied the need for an extension, stating, “Everybody has had a lot of time to register.” However, his denial threatened to disenfranchise thousands, especially young, low-income, and minority voters who tend to register at the last minute (and happen to lean Democratic).
In response, the Florida Democratic Party sued the governor and his top election official and asked the courts for a one-week extension, which a federal judge has just granted. The deadline for voter registration is now October 18. However key public websites, such as that of the Florida Division of Elections and the Florida Department of State, have yet to update their sites and still list October 11 as the deadline.
Scott, who also chairs a national super PAC committed to electing Trump, is under pressure to help put Florida in the Republican win column, considering the GOP candidate has little chance of winning the election without the state. However, with this latest decision, he has been denied one avenue towards this goal. Unfortunately, if the state’s long history of voter disenfranchisement is any indicator, the need to keep a close watch on Florida remains paramount.