With the rapid development of Hurricane Michael in the Gulf of Mexico, most Floridians saw an imminent life-and-death threat to the panhandle and Big Bend region of their state.
Not the Florida Democratic Party. They smelled an opportunity and seized it.
The last day to register voters was Tuesday, Oct. 9. But election offices closed in North Florida counties that day so citizens in the storm's path could prepare.
Democrats were licking their lips.
“The Florida Department of State is committed to ensuring that all eligible Floridians are able to register to vote, including those Floridians who may be impacted by Hurricane Michael,” Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner wrote in a memorandum distributed late Monday night.
To compensate for the day missed, Detzner authorized supervisors of elections whose county offices closed a day early to accept paper voter registration applications on the next day their office reopened.
“This will ensure that each Supervisor of Elections Office has the same amount of days to register voters at their office,” Detzner said.
Not content with Detzner's solution, the FDP filed a lawsuit in federal court asking for a judge to extend the voter registration deadline for registering to vote by a full week. (See the lawsuit here.)
In all counties, not just the ones in the path of Hurricane Michael.
The Democrats claim they speak for citizens denied the right to vote as a result of closures and evacuations.
The lawsuit, filed against Detzner in Tallahassee (where the storm is predicted to hit), declares, “His ‘solution’ is insufficient and confusing. It does not adequately protect the voting rights of Florida citizens who cannot register to vote.”
Do they think Floridians can't figure out this ruse? A statewide, full-week extension?
Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Republican Party Of Florida, called the stunt out.
“It's absolutely reprehensible that the Florida Democrats would play political games on the eve of a potentially devastating hurricane, and waste taxpayer money by filing this lawsuit,” he said in a prepared statement.
Making the fraud doubly distasteful -- and doubly transparent -- the majority of areas that experienced day-early office closures are in red counties; for the Democrats to ask for a week long extension is solely to grant extra time in South Florida's mostly blue counties, which have not experienced any storm-related hardships and where the most potential Democrats live.
Another reason this request looks like a cynical gambit is that registration was available online, by the deadline. This was a perfectly reasonable option, given no utilities had been affected by the storm by the close of business Tuesday. Those who may have missed the chance to register due to evacuation would be missing it by one day.
This issue is assuaged by the extension the secretary granted. Given Scott has made the allowances for those areas in the storm’s path, there is no discernible excuse for Democrats to make that would justify giving the unaffected counties -- the majority of the state -- the extra time to register.
In the lawsuit the FDP proclaims, “It is likely that citizens who would otherwise register as Democrats prior to the registration deadline … will not be able to do so, thereby decreasing the overall likelihood that the party will be successful in its efforts to help elect Democratic candidates to public office.” That sounds like a highly dramatic resolution -- over a one day delay. And that day is being granted, via the order from the secretary, so any concern would be remedied.
“Only an organization that is playing politics with people's lives,” said Ingoglia, “would ask for voter registration to be extended by a full week in this state’s most densely populated Democrat areas.”
With all the focus on Florida races, and the threat that the proposed Blue Wave is slacking, it is not surprising Florida Democrats would seek to leverage any advantage they can find -- even relying on the dramatics of a hurricane to do so. Hopefully, the court will see through their so-called "argument."
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.