Extension of voter registrations results in more than 100,000 new applications

Federal judge extend registration period by week

Photo does not have a caption

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A week-long extension of voters' registrations because of Hurricane Matthew resulted in more than 100,000 new applications.

The day began with about 21,000 voters' applications still unverified by the state. That resulted in a federal judge calling an emergency hearing.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced that as of 4:12 p.m. Friday, the Department of State completed review of all voter registration applications submitted to its agency received within the extended voter registration deadline period. Federal Judge Mark Walker extended the registration period by a week.

The department said from Oct. 11 through 4:12 p.m. Friday afternoon, 107,085 voters became newly registered voters in the Florida Voter Registration System database. Also, 20,737 applications are pending at various stages of the process within the FVRS.

"With the exception of 1,748 applications being sent to (Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles) for verification, the remaining 18,989 applications are at the county level, awaiting Supervisor of Elections’ or voter action," the department said.

Walker had called an emergency hearing by phone.

"Still engaged in the same efforts, the same extra staff, the same extra resources and overtime?" Walker asked.

Elections bureau chief Maria Matthews told the judge the state was still working seven days a week to verify the applications.

"That automated match process generates about an 85 percent automatic verification. That means 85 percent of those records that are verifiable become, those individuals become registered voters," Matthews said.

Of the 21,000 unverified applications, 15,000 were sent back to local supervisors. That's because they contained an error and many may never be verified.

Ron Labasky is the lawyer for the state's Supervisor's of Elections.

"A supervisor will contact the individual whose application was deficient. Obtain the information possible, if the voter is cooperative," Labasky said. "Sometimes the individuals just don't care to respond and those will just never get processed."

Walker ended the hearing saying he believed was satisfied the state was doing everything it could to verify valid applications quickly.

The state and judge previously agreed to a deadline of Monday morning to verify all valid applications. That's when all of the counties in Florida must begin early voting.