22 October, 2016
"It is clear that North Carolina Democrats, who have been dominated in voter registration by Republicans, want to use a horrific natural disaster to change the rules in the middle of the game", state Republican Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement.
A judge has ordered North Carolina election officials to extend the deadline to register to vote in 36 eastern counties of the state because of disruptions caused by Hurricane Matthew.
In Georgia, U.S. District Judge William Moore Jr. ruled that residents of Chatham County, which includes Savannah, must be allowed to register through Tuesday- a week after the original deadline passed.
If the deadline isn't extended, "many eligible prospective voters who were forced to choose between their safety and the fundamental right to vote and suffered hardship as a result of Hurricane Matthew will be disenfranchised in the November 8, 2016 election", the lawsuit says.
Both orders came in response to lawsuits filed by several groups.
The lawsuit notes that deadlines have been extended in other coastal states after Matthew roared up the Southeast Coast from Florida, causing several deaths in the US before weakening and heading out to sea.
The state Republican Party, which opposed the application extension, hasn't decided whether it will appeal Stephens' ruling.
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Through traditional registration, people can vote on Election Day or cast absentee ballots by mail.
The deadline was originally 5 p.m. Friday.
The registration deadline in Georgia to be able to vote in this year's general election was Tuesday.
The Board of Elections acknowledged Wednesday that certain counties were still assessing the full impact of the weekend's hurricane and said it anticipates certain voters will have difficulty accessing county elections offices.
Forcing election officials to register new voters while simultaneously conducting advance voting, he said, "would burden the state's ability to have an orderly election".
"Those administrative hurdles pale in comparison to the physical, emotional, and financial strain Chatham County residents faced in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew", Moore wrote.
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to move the October 11 deadline ahead by a week.