New Florida Majority and Mi Familia Vota seek to join lawsuit challenging Gov. Scott’s decision not to extend deadline; Federal judge issued temporary restraining order demanding that registration be extended through Wednesday as lawsuit seeks further extension

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – October 11, 2016
CONTACT:  ACLU of Florida Media Office, 
media@aclufl.org, (786) 363-2737

UPDATE, 5:30pm:  The court granted the motion to intervene. ACLU attorneys will be joining the October 12 hearing telephonically. Original release below:

TALLAHASSEE, FL - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida has filed a Motion to Intervene on behalf of two voting rights organizations – New Florida Majority and Mi Familia Vota – in the federal lawsuit challenging Governor Rick Scott’s decision not to extend the state’s voter registration deadline in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.

The lawsuit, Florida Democratic Party v. Scott, seeks a court order to compel the state to extend the voter registration deadline beyond the October 11 deadline after Gov. Scott’s declaration of a state of emergency resulting in the closing of over half of the state’s election offices during critical days before the end of the registration period. United States District Judge Mark Walker issued a temporary restraining order in the case yesterday, extending the deadline until 5:00PM Wednesday.

The motion filed today by the ACLU of Florida in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida asks the court to allow two organizations that are actively involved in voter registration to join the litigation as plaintiffs in the challenge to the state’s decision not to extend the deadline.

“Fairness would compel the state to order voter registration to continue to make up for the days that County election offices were closed because of the Governor's Executive Order,” noted Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “If it's the right thing to do for South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, it's also the right thing to do for Florida Governor Rick Scott.  What kind of a Governor would reduce the number of voter registration days and thereby reduce the number of people who can participate in our democratic elections?”

One of the groups seeking to intervene, New Florida Majority, is a civil rights organization with voter registration efforts throughout the state. “Gov. Scott made the right call in declaring a state of emergency with a hurricane looming, but that also shut down election offices all across the state, and voter registration efforts all but ceased,” stated Valerie Green, the Jacksonville-based North Florida Canvas Manager for New Florida Majority. “People had to focus on making sure they and their families were safe from the storm, have had days of power outages, and in many cases were under mandatory evacuation orders. Now, it’s only fair that the deadline be extended to make up for the time lost and allow all Florida citizens to participate in the crucial election this November.”

The other group represented in the motion, Mi Familia Vota, is a voter engagement group specifically focused on expanding Latino voter participation. “The final days of the before the deadline are the most crucial for voter registration,” stated Esteban Garces, Florida State Director for Mi Familia Vota. “Hurricane Matthew and its effects were a huge interruption to that, and many people who would have registered were not able to because of the effects of the storm. There are tens of thousands of people for whom this would be their first chance to vote in Florida, and they shouldn’t be forced to choose between being safe in a natural disaster and participation in our democracy.”

The motion asks the court to extend the registration deadline A court hearing has been set for tomorrow, Wednesday, October 12 at 10:00AM to determine whether the deadline should be further extended beyond the temporary one-day extension already ordered by the court.

A copy of the motion filed today by the ACLU of Florida is available here: https://aclufl.org/resources/motion-to-intervene-florida-democratic-party-v-scott/

A copy of the memorandum in support of the motion to intervene is avaialble here: https://aclufl.org/resources/memorandum-in-support-of-motion-to-intervene-florida-democratic-party-v-scott/

Stay informed

ACLU of Florida is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National