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No evidence Florida is slowing voter verification, judge says

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A federal judge has rejected the Florida Democratic Party’s request to let people cast a ballot during early voting even if their registration application hasn’t been verified.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said Thursday morning there is no evidence that state officials are dragging their feet in verifying applications.

Walker extended Florida’s voter registration deadline until Oct. 18 due to the disruption caused by Hurricane Matthew. Early voting is scheduled to begin in some counties on Oct. 24 and statewide by Oct. 29.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner on Tuesday night announced nearly 37,000 Floridians had become eligible to vote in the extra week of voter registration.

He also said another nearly 27,000 applications were in the verification process, meaning the state could have over 63,000 new voters on the rolls.

“We’re grateful to the court for granting that relief,” FDP lawyer Kevin Hamilton said after Thursday’s court hearing.

But his request was for voters whose applications are still pending to be able to cast a regular ballot during early voting as long as they produce identification. Currently, voters can be given a provisional ballot if there are questions as to their eligibility. Those ballots aren’t counted until after Election Day.

“When you vote a provisional ballot, it’s not counted unless the canvassing board approves the ballot,” Hamilton told reporters. Canvassing boards officially certify the results of elections.

“…You’d obviously rather vote a regular ballot,” he added.

Democrats say some election officials have told them that they won’t be able to verify all the new registrations in time. State officials say they are working to verify all applications by Oct. 29.

Capital correspondent Jim Rosica contributed reporting. Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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