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Judge extends voter registration in battleground state Florida after hurricane

A federal judge has extended voter registration until Oct. 18 in the battleground state of Florida because of the disruption and damage from Hurricane Matthew. During a hearing Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker agreed to extend the deadline for six more days after the Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit seeking more time following the hurricane's brush with the state's east coast. The original deadline to register had been Tuesday before Walker ordered a one-day postponement to allow for a hearing on Wednesday.

No right is more precious than having a voice in our elections.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker

Democrats late last week asked Republican Gov. Rick Scott to extend the deadline, but Scott turned down the request and said people have had enough time to register. Scott brushed aside questions on whether his decision was related to his staunch support of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Unlike other states, Florida does not allow residents to register to vote online. Instead, they must fill out a form on paper and either deliver it in person or mail it to their local elections office. Florida law requires the form to be postmarked by the deadline in order to qualify.

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Late registration

Voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, joined the legal battle and pointed out that they had canceled voter registration drives because of the storm. Their legal brief cited statistics that showed nearly 160,000 voters had registered in the final nine days before the 2012 deadline.

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