A federal judge has set a 10 a.m. Friday hearing in Savannah over a lawsuit seeking to reopen Georgia’s voter registration due to Hurricane Matthew. Voter advocates filed the suit Wednesday just before midnight, arguing that an emergency extension of the registration deadline was needed because some coastal residents forced to flee last weekend’s storm did not have enough opportunity to submit applications. The suit requests an extension through Oct. 18 for residents of Chatham County, where local government offices were closed for what would have been the last six days of the voter registration period that ended on Tuesday. It also suggests that the extension could be made available to residents statewide.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state’s top elections official, had urged residents in the path of the storm last week to take advantage of the state’s online and mobile voter registration access points. He traveled Wednesday to coastal Georgia to check on election preparations ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential contest, and his office said he was encouraged by the tour and believes local officials are good-to-go with early voting set to begin Monday.
… The complaint alleges that by failing to extend the deadline, the state violated residents’ constitutional right to vote as well as provisions of the National Voter Registration Act that require states to receive and process voter registration forms 30 days prior to Election Day.