North Carolina Democrats win extension of
voter registration deadline
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[October 15, 2016]
By Colleen Jenkins
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - A state
judge in North Carolina gave residents in counties hit hard by Hurricane
Matthew five extra days to register to vote after Democrats sued to get
an extension to Friday's deadline, while a federal judge ordered an
extension in one Georgia county.
The Democratic Party in North Carolina challenged the state election
board's refusal to extend the cutoff date, saying in its suit that
thousands of people would have been deprived of their fundamental right
to vote in the Nov. 8 election if Friday's deadline was not extended by
at least five days.
The judge ordered an extension to next Wednesday in 36 counties, a
lawyer for the state Democratic Party said on Twitter.
"This ruling will ensure that those communities who have suffered from
the devastating flooding brought on by Hurricane Matthew have the grace
period that they need in order to exercise their right to vote and make
their voices heard in this critical election,” party officials said.
Twenty-four people have died in North Carolina and thousands have been
forced from their homes in the eastern and central parts of the state
due to record flooding in Matthew's aftermath.
North Carolina is a battleground state in the presidential election and
could play a pivotal role in the race between Democrat Hillary Clinton
and Republican Donald Trump.
State officials said this week they would not extend the regular
deadline to register to vote, but allowances would be made for forms
delayed by mail delivery. Those who miss the deadline can still register
and vote on the same day during the statewide early voting period from
Oct. 20 through Nov. 5.
The state has a Republican governor, Pat McCrory, who faces a tough
contest for re-election.
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An aerial view shows flood waters in Lumberton, North Carolina.
The state's Republican Party opposed any extension.
"It is clear that North Carolina Democrats, who have been dominated
in voter registration by Republicans, want to use a horrific natural
disaster to change the rules in the middle of the game," state
Republican Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement.
In Georgia, U.S. District Judge William Moore ordered the voter
registration deadline extended until Tuesday in Chatham County,
which includes the city of Savannah. The judge said the
administrative difficulties of doing so "pale in comparison to the
physical, emotional and financial strain Chatham County residents
faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew."
A federal judge on Wednesday gave residents in Florida six extra
days to register to vote after that state's Democratic Party sued
for more time due to Matthew.
South Carolina extended its registration deadline due to Matthew
from Oct. 7 to Oct. 11.
(Additional reporting by Laila Kearney and Sharon Bernstein; Editing
by Chris Reese, Will Dunham and David Gregorio)
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