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Monday, June 24, 2024

Federal judge extends voter registration for six more days

<p>A voter reads his ballot at the Hamilton County Board of Elections as early voting begins statewide, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Cincinnati.</p>

A voter reads his ballot at the Hamilton County Board of Elections as early voting begins statewide, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Cincinnati.

Florida’s voter registration deadline has been extended to Tuesday.

Florida District Judge Mark E. Walker ruled Wednesday in favor of the Florida Democratic Party in a lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott to extend the deadline after Hurricane Matthew forced residents along the east coast to evacuate their homes.

After Scott decided not to extend the deadline, the Florida Democratic Party took the issue to court, naming Scott and Ken Detzner, Florida’s secretary of state, as defendants.

Walker’s decision, which was announced Wednesday, came after he extended the deadline by a day.

“No right is more precious than having a voice in our democracy,” he wrote in Wednesday’s order. “Hopefully it is not lost on anyone that the right to have a voice is why this great country exists in the first place.”

In Gainesville, the effort to register voters continues.

Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Pam Carpenter said that in her 12 years serving as supervisor, she’s never seen such a high voter registration increase in Alachua County.

On Tuesday, the elections office received more than 1,600 new voter registrations. On Wednesday, she said they received at least 1,000 more.

“We’re excited that people are this excited about the elections,” she said.

Since March, Carpenter said, the elections office has received more than 30,000 new registered voters. The extended deadline is a good thing, but residents shouldn’t wait until the last minute to register, she said.

“You’ve got a whole week here,” she said. “Come on in and get it done.”

At UF, Student Government agency Chomp the Vote has registered more than 500 students since the beginning of the summer, said Destiny Goede, the executive director of the agency.

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The nonpartisan organization has held voter registration drives — along with registration tabling three times a week — and will continue to do so until the new deadline, she said.

“The extension has been beneficial, specifically for our students,” Goede said.

TJ Pyche, the student communications assistant at the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, said the center has been tabling at Marston Science Library to register voters.

“It’s important that people are participating no matter what their political affiliation is,” he said.

The National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, conducted by the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University, found that in the 2012 U.S. elections, 61 percent of UF students voted.

Of the 36,619 registered UF students, 26,137 voted in that election. Pyche said UF students have proven to be involved when it comes to elections.

“I think come November, you’ll really see that UF, in terms of voter participation, will be one of the most engaged universities in the state,” he said.

Top fields of study for UF students voting in 2012

  • 59.2 percent of students studying professions
  • 61.2 percent of students studying trades
  • 61.6 percent of students studying multi/interdisciplinary studies
  • 63.4 percent of students studying communication, journalism and related programs
  • 65.3 percent of students studying education

More on how UF’s College of Education students did.

Data came from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.

A voter reads his ballot at the Hamilton County Board of Elections as early voting begins statewide, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016, in Cincinnati.

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