Flooded North Carolina’s voter registration deadline looms
Presidential battleground North Carolina’s voter registration deadline is two days away — but much of the state’s east coast still flooded and grappling with Hurricane Matthew’s fallout.
However, the Tar Heel State’s election laws — which allow same-day registration for early voters — have made extending that deadline less of a pressing priority for Democrats than it was in Florida, where a federal judge just extended the deadline until next week.
The state begins early voting October 20 — and in the state’s 17-day early voting window, prospective voters can register the same day they cast their ballots.
Same-day sign-ups are allowed every day but Election Day, November 8.
North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes are up for grabs in the presidential contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The state is also the site of a competitive Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic challenger Deborah Ross.
Florida’s voter registration deadline was the subject of a battle between Clinton’s campaign and state Democrats, who wanted an extension from a deadline originally set for Tuesday, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who said the deadline should stand. A judge has pushed the deadline back to next week after Hurricane Matthew.
However, Florida doesn’t allow the same flexibility as North Carolina’s same-day registration during early voting — which gives campaigns extra time to identify and turn out new voters.
It’s up to North Carolina’s state board of elections to decide whether to grant an extension. The board’s public information officers didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
Common Cause North Carolina on Tuesday called for an extension of the voter registration deadline to October 19.
“Thousands of North Carolinians continue to face loss of power, flooding and serious property damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. They should be able to focus on the safety and wellbeing of themselves and their families at this time, without the added concern about possibly missing an opportunity to vote,” Bob Phillips, Common Cause North Carolina’s executive director, said in a statement.
“We believe the fair and responsible action for the State Board of Elections is to extend the voter registration deadline. We urge Gov. (Pat) McCrory and legislators from the affected regions to join us in asking the State Board of Elections to extend the registration deadline,” Phillips said.
But the North Carolina Democratic Party hasn’t made any official requests, said spokesman Dave Miranda.
“We support anything that makes it easier for registered voters to vote,” he said. But, Miranda added, “in North Carolina, it’s still very easy to vote even if you miss the voter registration deadline.”
Aides for Clinton and Trump’s presidential campaigns and the North Carolina Republican Party did not immediately respond to requests for comment.