Hours before deadline, Florida’s voter registration website malfunctions

Would-be first-time voters may not get a chance to vote after all.

With the clock ticking on Florida’s midnight deadline to register to vote, some people are encountering problems with the state’s registration website, prompting frustrated calls for the state’s leaders to extend the deadline.

Just before 6 p.m., Secretary of State Laurel Lee posted on Twitter announcing that the website’s functions had been restored and that a “high volume” of visitors had caused delays for about 15 minutes.

Hours after the announcement, however, the website was still giving people fits.

Destinee Morin, a recent high school graduate from St. Cloud, who is already registered, has spent much of Monday unsuccessfully refreshing the website, Registertovoteflorida.gov, in an attempt to register two friends, both of them teenagers and would-be first-time voters.

Morin said she has been having problems since mid-afternoon.

“If the website is down, that’s not fair. A lot of people went on that website today because they didn’t realize it was their last day to register,” she said. “I really hope they extend it.”

PHOTO: A voter exits the polling precinct after casting their ballot in Florida's primary election at Precinct 321 on Aug. 18, 2020 in Tampa, Fla.

A voter exits the polling precinct after casting their ballot in Florida’s primary election at Precinct 321 on Aug. 18, 2020 in Tampa, Fla.

A voter exits the polling precinct after casting their ballot in Florida’s primary election at Precinct 321 on Aug. 18, 2020 in Tampa, Fla.

Kyle Redula, 20, a student at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, was excited about registering to vote for the first time, only to find himself struggling for hours with the website Monday. As of 10 p.m. EST, he was still receiving error messages.

“It’s definitely something that I was looking forward to,” he told ABC News. “Considering this is the Department of State website and it’s been giving me problems, it’s been frustrating.”

The issues with the website prompted a response on Twitter from Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Florida’s lone statewide elected Democrat.

“The voter registration deadline is just hours away, and the online voter registration website is broken,” she wrote. Addressing Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, Fried called the situation “unacceptable” and urged him to “fix it.”

In a later post, Fried wrote that the developments Monday night amounted to “voter suppression” and called on Lee and DeSantis to extend the registration deadline.

Lee has not issued a public statement since she announced the problems had supposedly been fixed, and there is no indication yet that the midnight deadline could be extended.

ABC News has reached out to her office, as well as the governor’s, for comment.

Here’s a state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19.

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