Federal judge hears arguments on voter registration extension after state website crash

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A federal judge on Thursday was considering whether to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline after the state’s website crashed Monday, the scheduled last day to register before the Nov. 3 election.

A coalition of voters’ rights groups sued, saying Secretary of State Laurel Lee’s extension of the deadline to 7 p.m. Tuesday wasn’t enough and some people were still unable to register.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker questioned lawyers for the groups and for the Florida Department of State, focusing on the harm caused by the problems with the website, and what effect any extension would have on the operation of the elections.

Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley stated in an affidavit filed in the case that a further extension would “serve to reinforce the confusion and mistrust voters have surrounding this election, further strengthening the rampant misinformation and disinformation campaigns that are already undermining the November general election.”

Walker appeared to agree, noting the additional unusual circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Historically, Florida hasn’t managed to count the votes properly when there isn’t a pandemic,” Walker said.

But he also peppered Mohammed Jazil, attorney for the Department of State, with questions about the extent of the website’s shutdown and the harm done to those who weren’t able to register online.

Walker took issue with Jazil’s argument that voters had other avenues to register, such as in-person at supervisors of elections offices or by mail, and the website was only down for a few hours on one day, so the harm caused was “minor.”

“Are you seriously taking the position that if 50,000 to 70,000 people lose their ability to vote ? that’s minor?” Walker said. “That’s just an oopsie that 50,000 people may not have been able to register because we lost a

Billionaire Jim Mellon plans to take life extension start-up public

LONDON – British billionaire Jim Mellon said he is planning to take his life extension company Juvenescence public in the next six to 12 months.

Founded in October 2016, Juvenescence is investing in a wide range of anti-ageing therapies that it thinks have the potential to extend the human life. One of those investments is Insilico Medicine, which is aiming to use artificial intelligence for drug discovery. It has also backed AgeX Therapeutics, a California-headquartered firm trying to create stem cells that can regenerate ageing tissue, and LyGenesis, which wants to develop a technology that uses lymph nodes as bioreactors to regrow replacement organs. 

Speaking to CNBC on Monday from the Spanish island of Ibiza via Zoom, Mellon, who is the chairman of Juvenescence, said: “We have been approached by multiple investment banks and we have identified the investment banks we want to work with.”

Mellon, who has been previously called Britain’s “answer to Warren Buffett,” added: “We are likely, within the next six months to a year, to be a public company assuming everything goes well and markets don’t collapse etc.” The listing will probably be in the U.S. although no firm decision has been made. 

The IPO (initial public offering) appears to be running behind schedule; the Financial Times reported in June 2018 that it would happen at some point in 2019.

Juvenescence, which has 29 employees in London, has raised about $170 million privately and Mellon said it still has a “fair amount of money left in the bank.” Other billionaires, including Mike Cannon-Brookes, the co-founder of Australian software firm Atlassian, and NEX Group founder Michael Spencer, have invested in the company. 

Mellon, who profited in the 1990s from Russian privatization and areas like mining, said there’s a “good chance” that people his age will live another