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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pool of new voters keeps growing after judge's extension order



First it was 64,000. Then it was 72,000.

On Friday, the number of new voters who registered during Florida's court-ordered week-long extension period had swelled to more than 86,000, suggesting for the first time that there could be more than 100,000 people who took advantage of the extra time ordered by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker as a result of disruption caused by Hurricane Matthew.

The state reported Friday that the number of verified new voters between Oct. 11-20 is 61,233 and that an additional 24,854 people are being verified, for a potential post-Matthew bounty of 86,087 new voters. A little numerical perspective: All of Sumter County, home of The Villages, had about 91,000 voters as of Sept. 30. Unofficial data indicates that Miami-Dade registered far more new voters than any other county, but the specifics by county and by party won't be released by the state for several more days.

The state's latest voter registration report is through Thursday.

That means the higher total likely includes voter forms that were postmarked by the Oct. 18 deadline that arrived by mail at county and state elections offices.

Democrats failed Thursday in a request that the judge order the state to verify every new applicant by Sunday to prevent them from being forced to cast provisional ballots at early voting sites beginning next Monday.  

The big unknown is how many of these brand-new voters will actually show up to vote in the election and how they will vote. But this much is for sure: If any race in the state is decided by a handful of votes on Nov. 8, Judge Walker's decision to extend the registration period, over the initial opposition of Gov. Rick Scott, is sure to be cited as a critical factor.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner will continually update the numbers as forms are received, processed and verified. You can monitor the state's numbers here.

[Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2016 10:30am]


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