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SOE working to meet new deadline

Posted on Friday, October 14, 2016 at 9:38 am

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
The decision by a Florida state judge to extend the deadline for voter registration by nearly a week due to the effects of Hurricane Matthew was met locally by a sigh, a gulp and then the motivation to get busy.
Originally scheduled to close on Tuesday, the deadline was at first moved back one day, then earlier this week it was pushed to Tuesday of next week.
“We’ll now be able to make up for lost time and help register people whose lives were disrupted by the storm,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “Our goal is to help every Floridian register, vote, and be heard, and we’re grateful that the storm did not silence their voices.”
“This was the only fair result,” said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “The League will be working across the state to register voters right up to the extended deadline.”
Hearing that, the Osceola County Supervisor of Elections Office will likely be working the next two weekends in order to process all new voter applications ahead of the start of early voting, which begins Oct. 24.
“The decision means longer hours for our staff,” Supervisor of Elections Mary Jane Arrington said. “The applications keep coming in and we have to have them processed by the start of early voting.
“We thought we could handle the extra day. We’re processing thousands of applications, but we’re up to the task.”
Arrington said after her office and other county SOEs submit each application to the state of Florida, the state must verify the information on each, which can take two or three days, hence the time crunch.
They’ve already been busy. Arrington said about 12,000 Osceola County applications have been processed since July 19, pushing the voting rolls to 192,072 as of Thursday morning.
“Smaller groups have been going door-to-door, really trying to push this election,” she said.
For first-time voters in Florida, a completed registration application must be in the Supervisor of Elections’ office, or postmarked, by Tuesday. Those with new addresses must register that address with the Supervisor of Elections’ office as soon as possible.
Early voting runs through Nov. 6 at the Celebration and Poinciana libraries, the Kissimee and St. Cloud Civic Centers, Robert Guevara Community Center in Buenaventura Lakes and the Supervisor of Elections office. Wait times will be posted on the Osceola SOE website, www.voteosceola.com/en/voting-locations/early-voting.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8.