Time is running out to register vote.
Former President Bill Clinton drove that point home Tuesday during a three-city swing through Florida. The trip was meant to coincide with the voter registration deadline, but a federal court judge extended the deadline to Wednesday.
And the former president encouraged Floridians to take advantage of that extension, telling Lee County supporters to get out and make sure their friends and family are able to vote come Election Day.
“We got until tomorrow at 5 p.m. to register voters,” he told an overflow crowd at Riverside Community Center in Fort Myers. “Drag at least one more person out to get registered.”
The Florida Democratic Party sued Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Ken Detzner to extend the voter registration deadline because of Hurricane Matthew. The League of Women Voters of Florida filed a similar suit Tuesday to request an extension.
Filed in federal court Sunday, the suit claimed, among other things, Scott’s “refusal to extend the voter registration deadline in the catastrophic emergency that has made it impossible for many Floridians to register by the October 11 deadline directly harms FDP, its members, and its constituents.”
Hurricane Matthew killed hundreds of people in Haiti last week, before sideswiping hundreds of miles of the U.S. coastline from Florida through Georgia. Scott, the chairman of a pro-Donald Trump super PAC, spent the days leading up to the storm urging Floridians to evacuate.
The suit argued many Floridians who would have registered to vote prior to the Oct. 11 voter registration deadline are now displaced, and can’t register to vote.
A federal judge extended the deadline to at least 5 p.m. Wednesday. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning to decide whether to extend the deadline beyond the end of the day.
In his order, District Court Judge Mark E. Walker said the case “pits the fundamental right to vote against administrative convenience.”
“This case is about the right of aspiring eligible voters to register and to have their votes counted,” he wrote in his order. “Nothing could be more fundamental to our democracy.”
The former president encouraged Floridians to not only register to vote, but turn out to support his wife, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. President Clinton used his more than 45-minute speech to rally support, and outline why Hillary Clinton is best suited for the presidency.
And his stop in Lee County highlight’s the Clinton campaign’s effort to boost turnout, even in deep red counties, across the state.
Elections records show there are 183,324 registered Republicans in Lee County, followed by 114,417 independent voters. Records show there were 118,661 registered Democrats in the Southwest Florida county as of Oct. 11.
Mitt Romney won Lee County in 2012 with 58 percent of the voter; President Barack Obama received 41 percent. And in 2008, John McCain won Lee County with 55 percent of the vote, while then-candidate Obama picked up 44 percent of the vote.
While the crowd was filled with mostly hardcore Clinton supporters, the former president appealed to independents and Republicans, encouraging them to throw their support behind the Democratic nominee.
“People need to feel valued, and that’s all I ask of you,” he said. “Don’t engage in our version of all this screaming. Go out there and look people in the eye that aren’t going to vote for (Clinton) and tell them we still want them to be a part, that we still need them.”
The former president’s speech was briefly interrupted when a protester shouted “Bill Clinton is a rapist,” referencing Trump’s comments about the former president past during the second presidential debate. The protester was removed from the event, and Clinton joked that one heckler in such a Republican County wasn’t a lot.
Clinton attended a similar event to boost voter registration in Palm Beach County earlier in the day, and was scheduled to hold a rally in Pinellas County on Tuesday evening. Hillary Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, her husband’s No. 2, held a rally in Miami around the same time Tuesday, and Trump was scheduled to hold a rally in the Panhandle on Tuesday evening.
“Don’t be someone who doesn’t show up,” the former president said. “We have a great future, America.”