Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend the state’s voter registration deadline after a request from Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign on Oct. 6.
Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, called on Scott, a strong supporter of Republican nominee Donald Trump, to extend the registration past the Oct. 11 limit, saying Hurricane Matthew’s destruction could interfere with residents to register in time.
“The one thing that we are hoping and expecting is that officials in Florida will adapt deadlines to account for the storm,” Mook said in a conference call with reporters. “Our hope would be that a little bit more time would be given for people that were expecting to get registered before the election.”
Scott, whose state is under a state of emergency, said he had decided not to extend the deadline.
“I’m not going to extend it,” Scott said during a press conference in Tallahassee that same day. “Everybody’s had a lot of time to register. On top of that, we have lots of opportunities to vote, early voting and absentee voting, so I don’t intend to make any changes.”
A journalist then noted that the weather would affect early voting, as absentee ballots were being mailed out this week. Scott responded saying, “it’s not like you have just one day in our state” to vote.
“You’ve got a lot of opportunities to vote, so it won’t have an impact,” he added.
South Carolina, which is also under a state of emergency, extended the deadline.
“All South Carolina voters will now have more time to return voter registration applications for the 2016 General Election,” the South Carolina State Election Commission announced on Oct. 6. “This will provide additional opportunity for citizens to register who are affected by voter registration office and post office closures related to Hurricane Matthew.”
An extended deadline for voters to register can help the Clinton campaign, since voter turnout on Election Day is crucial for the Democrat who is counting on the large Latino and African-American electorate in Florida to win the state.
Scott’s decision was criticized by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). In an interview with MSNBC, she said Florida’s congressional delegation would write a letter calling on the governor to extend the deadline from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14.
“It’s clearly the responsible and essential thing to do, we have people who have been expecting to have a few extra days before that deadline to register to vote,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“That’s the most fundamental right we have is to be able to register and cast our ballot to select our leaders and, you know, I certainly hope Gov. Scott will reconsider,” she added.
An attorney with Clinton-affiliated law firm Perkins Coie LLP, Jean-Jacques Cabou, suggested in a tweet that Scott’s decision could be taken to court.
“Well @FLGovScott I know some folks who are gonna have the last say on this. And none of them is you. #seeyouincourt,” Cabou said.
— J Cabou (@CabouJ) October 7, 2016