Rick Scott Under Fire for Voter Registration Decision

From NBC News’ Zachary Roth and Alexandra Jaffe, 10/07/2016:

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s refusal to extend his state’s deadline for voter registration in response to Hurricane Matthew is leading to fears that perhaps tens of thousands of Floridians could be kept from registering, potentially impacting the presidential race.

The deadline to register is Tuesday, but with 1.5 million Floridians under mandatory evacuation orders, the Hillary Clinton campaign had urged Scott to extend it. He declined.

“Everybody has had a lot of time to register,” Scott, a Republican and staunch Donald Trump supporter, said Thursday night. “On top of that, we’ve got lots of opportunities to vote: Early voting, absentee voting and Election Day. So I don’t intend to make any changes.”

Asked at a Friday morning appearance whether his decision was aimed at helping Trump, Scott said: “I’m focused on a storm. I”m focused on making sure … you don’t lose a life.” …

Asked whether Scott consulted with local election officials before making his decision, his office did not immediately respond.

Georgia and South Carolina, the two other states most directly affected by Matthew, both have extended their deadlines to register.

Dan Smith, a University of Florida political science professor and Florida election data expert, did not mince words when asked whether it appeared Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend the voter registration deadline for partisan reasons.

“Absolutely,” he said.

In 2012, 86,000 Floridians registered in the eight days before the deadline. Forty percent were Democrats, while 21 percent were Republicans, Smith said,

Smith added that his research has found that individuals who register immediately prior to an election turn out to vote “at rates very comparable, if not higher, than the average registrant.” That makes this voter registration window key for turnout targets for both parties, but particularly so, Smith said, for Democrats, because of the demographic groups that take particular advantage of late registration.

They’re often people of lower socioeconomic status, who didn’t register at the DMV because they don’t have cars or drive. Or they’re young voters who didn’t make registration a priority. Or they’re newly-naturalized citizens who didn’t want to wait in line to register to vote after their naturalization ceremony. In short, likely Democratic voters.

Read the whole story HERE.

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