TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Voter registration applications received during an extended deadline were entered into the state's voter registration database Friday afternoon, the Department of State said.
Applications submitted by Oct. 18 were entered into the voter database prior to the mandatory statewide start of early voting, which begins Saturday, said State Department spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice.
From Oct. 11 through Friday afternoon, more than 107,000 Floridians became newly registered voters, the agency said.
Nearly 21,000 applications are pending at various stages of the process within the state's voter registration system.
"With the exception of 1,748 applications being sent to DHMSV for verification, the remaining 18,989 applications are at the county level, awaiting [elections supervisors' or voters'] action," Beatrice said.
Previously, a federal judge had expressed concerns that the job wasn’t getting done fast enough one week after he denied a motion by the Florida Democratic Party to set a deadline for verification of 125,000 voter registrations.
Judge Mark Walker issued a preliminary injunction extending the Florida voter-registration deadline to Oct. 18, following Hurricane Matthew, a move opposed by Gov. Rick Scott.
An additional 125,000 registration applications were submitted during the extension, and Democrats raised concerns that they would not be verified in time for the Nov. 8 general election.
The group filed a motion that would have required Secretary of State Ken Detzner to verify all registrations by Oct. 23 and allow any voters not processed by then to vote in the early polling.
Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said he is working to get people verified.
“We've been able to take the information from the voter, put it into the Division of Motor Vehicles information and get them cleared right away," Cowles said.
Walker denied the Democrats' motion based on Detzner’s assurance that the registrations would be verified in a timely manner, according to an order he issued Thursday.
But in that same order, Walker questioned the progress of the verifications, pointing out that 25,000 registrations were verified Oct. 18-19, while only 7,000 were processed Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It appears that the amount of voters being processed each day has slowed dramatically,” he wrote in the order.
Walker had questions about the Florida Department of State’s abilities to finish the verifications, and wondered “whether it is employing the same number of workers for the same number of hours as was previously represented to this Court.”
Meanwhile, roughly 3 million Floridians have already taken advantage of early voting, and turnout numbers are higher in Orange County compared to the last presidential election.
Cars backed up on the street and voters lined up out the door Friday at the Supervisor of Elections office in Orange County.
Statewide, millions have already cast a ballot, including Lindsay Hansen.
“The wait wasn't bad. Maybe a few minutes while they prepared the ballots, but nothing crazy,” said Hansen.
New numbers show there have been an additional 14,000 voters compared to this time in 2012.
“Fewer voters are going to show up at their polling place on Election Day, which should make it a smoother day for them,” said Cowles.
Cowles made some changes this year.
“We put 25 new precincts in play, which means smaller precincts, fewer voters assigned to them,” said Cowles.
Other new changes include a greeter to make sure voters are at the right polling place, additional check-in stations and 100 extra machines to accept completed ballots.
“It looks like they're really organized in there and they're making sure everybody goes along quickly,” said Hansen.
Cowles predicts next week will be the busiest time for early voting. He said hype over the presidential race isn't just attracting voters to central Florida, but also news media from around the world.
Cox Media Group