Federal judge denies motion to extend Florida voter registration deadline

Posted at 5:43 AM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 17:22:02-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — U.S. Federal Judge Mark Walker has denied a motion to extend Florida's voting registration deadline for two days after the state's election website crashed on Monday.

In a scathing 29 page order filed sometime after midnight, the judge had harsh criticism for election officials.

"In so ruling, this Court notes that every man who has stepped foot on the Moon launched from the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. Yet, Florida has failed to figure out how to run an election properly — a task simpler than rocket science," Chief United States District Judge Mark Walker said.

The plaintiffs of the lawsuit -- New Florida Majority, Dream Defenders and Florida Immigrant Coalition -- argued that the extension did not give Floridians enough time to register online.

However, Walker said that this case is not about Floridians missing registration deadlines or a challenge to a state stature. It's about how a state failed its citizens.

He said the court couldn't make up for the state's failures when he denied the motion, saying Secretary of State Laurel Lee "hastily and briefly" extended the deadline and left Floridians less than seven hours to hear the news and register — all during a normal workday.

The lawsuit was filed despite the extension from the state Tuesday.

A hearing was held Thursday, and the state argued that extending voter registration again could interfere with county elections offices around the state as they process vote-by-mail ballots and administer early voting. Leon County Supervisor of Elections and Vice president of the Florida Supervisors of Elections Association, Mark Early, agreed.

"I think people that had a problem getting registered Monday evening had plenty of time to do so and took advantage of it,” Early tells ABC 27.

Early argued it would have created more work for election office employees.

Early voting in Florida begins on Oct. 19. Georgia voters can start filling out their ballots on Oct. 12.