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Federal Judge Rules Against Democrats in Registration Case

October 20th, 2016 by flanews

Thousands of Floridians took advantage of an extended voter registration deadline in the state, but getting them verified in time to cast a regular early voting ballot may be in doubt. As Matt Galka tells us, Florida Democrats hoped a federal judge could force the state’s hand and not make them cast provisional ballots.

Florida Democrats couldn’t go three for three in federal court. They filed a motion looking to get newly registered voters in Florida processed by Sunday – a day before early voting starts in parts of the state. The reason – they don’t want provisional ballots being cast.

“When you vote a provisional ballot, it’s not counted unless the county canvassing board approves the ballot, which is a presumption they should in the absence of proof that the voter is ineligible to vote, but obviously we’d rather vote a regular ballot if we can,” said Democratic Party lawyer Kevin Hamilton.

But federal Judge Mark Walker – the same judge who ruled in the Democrats favor in voter registration deadline and mismatching mail ballot signature lawsuits over the past two weeks – denied the motion.

A spokesman for the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections said if the ruling had gone the other way, it could have been chaotic.

“The ballot could never be brought back, because once it’s in the box, it’s gone,” said Ron Labasky. “It would create a problem if an individual who was not eligible, not on the voter roles, casting a regular ballot at early voting or a polling place, not being scrutinized and voting illegally.”

It can take up to ten days to verify new forms, meaning the state should have everyone verified by the end of the month – with early voting starting Monday.

The Department of State released data Thursday afternoon showing that around 72,000 people registered during the extended deadline. They’re increasing staff to try and get everyone verified quickly with more than 21,000 still not verified.

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