A number of voting rights groups are calling for Florida’s voter registration cutoff to be extended after the state’s registration portal experienced outages in the hours before the deadline.
Some Floridians attempting to access RegistertovoteFlorida.gov found slow responses or error messages on Monday evening, with some reports on social media of people attempting for hours to register to vote.
Florida’s deadline to register in order to be eligible to vote in the 2020 general election was midnight Monday. Paper applications that were mailed in had to be postmarked by Monday.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the ACLU of Florida and the Campaign Legal Center sent a letter on Monday night to Brad McVay, the Florida Department of State’s general counsel, pushing for the deadline to be extended until midnight Tuesday.
“We are contemplating further action,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee, when asked for an update Tuesday morning. “We are prepared to use every tool in our arsenal to stand up for voters impacted.”
A spokesman for the Department of State, which manages the website, has not yet responded to two voicemails and an email sent Monday evening and Tuesday morning asking for more information about what happened with the website and whether the deadline would be extended.
Brad Ashwell, Florida state director of voting rights group All Voting is Local, said his organization was hearing reports well into Monday night that there were problems with the voter registration website. Ashwell said different groups are debating how long to ask for the deadline to be extended. He noted that there would need to be time to get the word out about any deadline extension, and added that there was no guarantee at this point that the website wouldn’t crash again if the deadline were extended.
Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, said her organization and others are looking for anyone who was not able to register Monday because of the website issues.
She said a lawsuit “is being explored” if the state doesn’t extend the registration deadline.
“I feel hopeful that the Secretary of State would extend it,” Brigham said. “But based on the track record of Gov. (Ron) DeSantis, we’ll see. He has the final word.”
Brigham on Monday said she spoke with a state senator from each party, Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, and Sen. Jason Pizzo, a Miami Democrat, and they each told her they support extending the deadline.
“The state had months to prepare for the last day of voter registration,” Brigham said Tuesday morning. “It’s quite frankly very concerning.”
Monday is not the first time the state has had glitches with its voter registration website. Groups like All Voting is Local had for months been questioning the state how it was preparing the website to handle an influx of users without crashing.
In June, Department of State spokesman Mark Ard told the Tampa Bay Times that his department had “rigorously tested the online voter registration site, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, for capacity and we are confident that the system will be able to process and support Florida’s voters and potential voters registering or updating their voter registration before the August and November elections.”
Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau reporter Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report.
This story will be updated.
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