Federal judge OK with how Florida is registering voters

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – A federal judge said Friday he’s satisfied that Florida officials are trying to process the remaining applications from thousands of people who tried to register to vote following Hurricane Matthew.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker extended the registration deadline from Oct. 11 to Oct. 18 following the disruption caused by the storm that scraped the state’s Atlantic Coast. During the extended period more 100,000 Floridians were added to the voter rolls.

Walker, who was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama in 2012, held an emergency hearing to ask about state officials about roughly 25,000 applications that have been submitted but not yet been verified.

Florida Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews testified that the number has been reduced to 21,000 overnight, but she also said most of the remaining applications have been sent to local election officials because the applications were incomplete.

Matthews said some lacked proper addresses or a correct identification number. Some voters failed to check boxes that ask if they are a U.S. citizen or a convicted felon. Convicted felons are not allowed to vote in Florida unless they have their voting rights restored by the governor and Cabinet.

The Florida Democratic Party sued to extend the state’s voter registration deadline in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Gov. Rick Scott rejected requests to extend the deadline, but his office did not fight the lawsuit filed by Democrats and accepted Walker’s ruling.

The legal battle over voter registration comes with early voting already underway in the state. So far, nearly 2.87 million Floridians have already voted by mail or voting at an early voting polling place. Early voting kicked off in 50 counties on Monday and it will extend to the remaining counties this weekend.

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