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Because of Hurricane Michael, Florida will let some voters register past deadline

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, 9:24 a.m.
Bobby Smith boards up the windows at Jani’s Ceramics in Panama City, Fla., on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Michael.
News Herald/AP
Bobby Smith boards up the windows at Jani’s Ceramics in Panama City, Fla., on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Michael.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida’s voters threatened by Hurricane Michael will get an extra day to register to vote ahead of the state’s closely watched races for governor and U.S. Senate.

Florida’s deadline to register to vote is Tuesday, 29 days ahead of the Nov. 6 election. Democrats including Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is running for governor against Republican Ron DeSantis, called for an extension as the imminent arrival of Michael prompted evacuations and the closing of government offices across the Panhandle.

Shortly before midnight on Monday, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who works for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, told local election supervisors that if their offices were closed on Tuesday than they could accept paper applications on the day that their office reopens.

In his order, Detzner said giving some supervisors an extra day to accept paper registration forms will ensure that all offices in the state would be open the same amount of days.

It took a federal judge’s order two years ago to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to the disruption caused by Hurricane Matthew.

Scott, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson this year, had been asked on Monday whether he would extend this year’s deadline. Scott told reporters that state officials were considering it, but he pointed out that Florida now allows people to register to vote online.

Detzner in his memo noted that 40,000 people had used the online site in the last week to either register or update their registration.

Florida had more than 13 million registered voters as of the end of August according to the state Division of Elections. Several statewide elections in recent years have been decided by very narrow margins.

“I do think we ought to do whatever we can to extend registration to folks, especially given the fact that most people are trying to scurry away from these areas,” Gillum said Monday. “They aren’t thinking about voter registration.”

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