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Will Hurricane Matthew Impact Voter Registration in Florida?

Just as up to two million Floridians were instructed to flee the state ahead of Hurricane Matthew, the state's governor said he would not extend the voter registration deadline past October 11, a move that could be harmful on Election Day.

Gov. Rick Scott quickly received criticism from Democrats who argued that an extension is justified given the disruption of the storm. Partisan motivations appeared to affect the governor's decision — Scott currently serves as national chairman of a pro-Trump Super PAC — and new analysis shows that most of the dozen counties under evacuation are more heavily Democratic.

The open question is whether extending the voter registration deadline could influence turnout in November — and if one party stands to gain more in the week ahead of the deadline. The 2012 election provides some empirical evidence to evaluate how turnout may be effected in the 2016 election.

NBC News, in partnership with voter file company TargetSmart, analyzed partisan registration in the last week of registration in 2012 (Oct 2-9) in the 12 Florida counties evacuated due to Hurricane Matthew this week: Brevard, Broward, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Martin, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Palm Beach, St. Johns, St. Lucie, and Volusia.

The day-by-day count shows there was an uptick in the number of voter registration applications overall in those counties towards the end of the registration deadline in 2012. The overall results show that during this week in 2012, 24,656 Democrats registered compared to just 10,322 Republicans.

Voter registration for ‘no party’ included 21,485 individuals and minor party registration totaled 1,096. The partisan advantage significantly favored Democrats for these 12 counties in the last week of registration in 2012.

The Florida Registration Analysis was conducted by the NBC News Data Analytics Lab in partnership with TargetSmart. The counties featured in the analysis include Brevard, Broward, Duval, Flager, Indian River, Martin, Miami-Dade, Nassau, Palm Beach, St. Johns, St. Lucie and Volusia.