A federal judge’s order extending Florida’s voter registration deadline by a week after Hurricane Matthew appears to have enabled tens of thousands of new voters to become eligible to cast ballots in the battleground state.
Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced Wednesday night that 36,823 voter registration applications were verified in the state between Oct. 11 and Wednesday’s new deadline. Another 26,773 applications are in the verification process, Detzner’s office said.
Some of the verified and in-process applications could have been submitted before Oct. 11, so it wasn’t immediately clear late Wednesday how many new applications came in during the extra week.
Florida’s original registration deadline was Oct. 11. The Florida Democratic Party and other groups urged Gov. Rick Scott to extend the deadline because many elections offices were closed during the final week of registration due to the threat of Hurricane Matthew.
Scott refused, but U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered the extra week of registration.
More than 12.6 million voters were registered in Florida as of Sept. 30 — up from 11.9 million Florida voters before the 2012 presidential election.
The Department of State will assign more than 65 staff members to process voter registrations, Detzner’s office said. That includes 19 employees “trained and approved by the state to enter and handle sensitive voter information.”