With Hurricane Michael on a path to devastate 300 miles of northwest Florida coastline tomorrow afternoon, Florida Democrats want the voter registration deadline extended.
Michael is bringing to Florida’s northern Gulf Coast its most serious hurricane threat in decades, and the National Hurricane Center has said the devastation caused by storm surges may be greater than anything residents there have ever seen before. The storm will make landfall Wednesday as a major category 3 hurricane.
Michael is poised to push ashore a “life-threatening” surge of ocean water 10-12 feet high that will inundate low-lying coastal areas for miles. The storm will also unleash a foot of rain causing flash flooding and destructive winds of over 110 miles per hour.
As a result of this expected mayhem, the head of the Florida Democratic Party is asking Florida government officials to allow an unprecedented extension of the voter registration deadline.
A formal letter was sent by Florida Democratic Party Chairman Terrie Rizzo to GOP Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Monday afternoon. In the letter Rizzo requested that Scott and Detzner extend the deadline as hundreds of thousands of Floridians face a potentially disastrous storm.
Tuesday is the state’s deadline for eligible individuals to vote ahead of the elections to be held November 6th.
In his letter Rizzo wrote:
“The impending hurricane will adversely impact the ability of these eligible, but unregistered individuals who may have waited until the last day in order to register to vote.”
Since most people in northwest Florida have begun evacuating, and since Scott has declared an emergency in 35 Florida counties, Rizzo is concerned that many Floridians’ voter registrations will be adversely impacted.
“These individuals may forego registering, in view of your warnings regarding the danger of the storm as well as County evacuations, the need to prepare, and both announced and anticipated evacuation orders.”
Rizzo also pointed out that government offices were closed on Monday for a holiday, and will also be closed on Tuesday in the counties that are in the path of Michael.
He ended his letter by writing:
“In consideration of these exigencies and in order to ensure maximum citizen participation in the electoral process, I would request that you exercise the authority vested in each of you, respectively, under Florida law, including the power vested in the Governor pursuant to Article IV, Section 1(a) of the Florida Constitution, to extend the period of time for our citizens to register to vote, as necessary, to permit eligible individuals to register to vote in order to participate in the November 6, 2018 general election. On behalf of all Florida citizens, I would appreciate your favorable action on this request.”
Florida has important races for governor and U.S. Senator this year. Democrat Andrew Gillum is leading Republican Ron DeSantis in the race for governor, and Democratic Senator Bill Nelson is leading Scott in the U.S. Senate race.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.
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