No plans to extend Georgia’s voter registration deadline

St. Simons Island Pier is closed as Hurricane Matthew moves closer to Georgia on Friday morning, October 7, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
St. Simons Island Pier is closed as Hurricane Matthew moves closer to Georgia on Friday morning, October 7, 2016. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Georgia officials said they have no plans at this time to extend Tuesday's voter registration deadline, despite a public push by some advocates to give residents more time due to Hurricane Matthew.

The extraordinary circumstance of such a major storm disrupting services so close to the registration deadlines for states including Georgia, Florida and South Carolina have prompted the calls. Advocates said one of their concerns is that many communities along the coast under mandatory evacuation orders have significant numbers of African American and minority populations, which have historically been underrepresented on the rolls.

Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered the mandatory evacuation of some 500,000 residents from Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh counties. He has also called for a voluntary evacuation of thousands of residents just inland from the coast.

Residents affected by evacuations from the storm have been urged by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to take advantage of the state's online and mobile voter access points. A number of election registration offices have closed in coastal counties due to the storm, and the hurricane may delay mail service in certain Georgia counties, potentially also delaying processing of paper voter registration applications.

South Carolina announced Thursday it would extend its original deadline Saturday to register to vote in the general election. Florida, which has the same deadline as Georgia, has announced it does not plan to extend its deadline.

As of Friday morning, records from the Secretary of State's Office show that more than a half million people have registered to vote in Georgia since the March 1 presidential primary. That brings the state's total to about 6.5 million registered voters ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.

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