A partisan brushfire blew up Tuesday over voter registration deadlines in the battleground state of Florida after Hurricane Michael’s approach disrupted registration in the state’s Panhandle region. The Florida Democratic Party sued in federal court, asking a judge to extend the state’s registration deadline by at least a week. 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 Michael’s imminent arrival prompted evacuations and the closing of government offices across the Panhandle.
Shortly before midnight Monday, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who works for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, told local election supervisors that if their offices were closed Tuesday, then they could accept paper applications on the day their offices reopen.
In his order, Detzner said giving some supervisors this extra day to accept paper registration forms would ensure all offices in the state will be open the same number of days.
Democrats contend in their lawsuit that Detzner’s solution is inadequate and not equally available to all Floridians. The lawsuit asks what happens to people who evacuate and can’t make it back to their local elections offices on the day they reopen.