A federal court has issued a temporary restraining order requiring Florida to allow voters to register through October 12, with a further extension possible of up to a week at the preliminary injunction hearing.
While I think Florida absolutely should have extended the deadline given that the governor told 1.5 million Floridians to evacuate during the last 5 days of registration (when we know 50,000 people voted in that period during 2012), I’m not so sure about the court’s reasoning. The court found Florida’s deadline in the face of the hurricane unconstitutional under even rational basis review (see page 12), an argument that’s pretty dubious. The court did not address the question whether such an extension is possible in a presidential election given Article II.
The judge did not address the Voting Rights Act claim.
He said that the governor, however, did not have the power to extend the deadline. That presumably fell to state election officials (who are nonetheless under the governor’s control.)
We will see if Florida makes an emergency run to the Eleventh Circuit. Ordinarily TROs are not appealable, but they are when they essentially decide the case.
More to come, no doubt.