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Florida investigating voter registration site outage, extends deadline

Florida’s voter registration web site acquired 1.1 million requests an hour on Monday evening, inflicting an outage.


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This story is part of Elections 2020, PJDM’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

After a seven hour outage of Florida’s voter registration web site on Monday, voters within the state could have one other likelihood to register, on Tuesday. The unique deadline to register to vote in Florida was midnight Monday, however that is been prolonged to 7 p.m. on Tuesday due to the outage. 

Florida’s voter registration web site went down beginning at round 5 p.m. on Monday, and the outage remained a problem previous the midnight deadline, Gov. Ron DeSantis mentioned at a press convention Tuesday. He mentioned the positioning is anticipated to be working for Florida voters on Tuesday. 

“It is working now, but when 500,000 individuals descend on the similar time, I imply, it creates a bottleneck,” DeSantis mentioned. “It clearly wasn’t clean since you had a lot visitors. Hopefully it will be wonderful.”

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Monday’s outage wasn’t the primary time technical difficulties have affected Florida voters. The voter registration web site was taken offline in 2019 for maintenance days earlier than Nationwide Voter Registration Day. The state’s residents have additionally complained about Florida’s unemployment website experiencing outages in April. 

Florida is taken into account a crucial swing state for the 2020 US presidential election, and throughout the 2016 election it skilled cyberattacks affecting voter registration databases in two counties. 

The state’s election officers are nonetheless investigating what brought on Monday’s outage and mentioned the positioning acquired “a particularly excessive quantity of visitors.”

“Throughout the previous couple of hours, the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov web site was accessed by an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour,” Secretary of State Laurel Lee mentioned in an announcement.  “We are going to work with our state and federal law-enforcement companions to make sure this was not a deliberate act in opposition to the voting course of.”

That quantity of visitors is sort of 5 occasions the voter registration web site’s regular quantity of visitors all 12 months. About 213,000 Florida residents registered to vote on-line in 2020, according to Politico

As of Aug. 31, Florida had 14.1 million registered voters in the state, in accordance with public data. About 32 p.c of newly registered voters within the state got here from the web portal. 

That is an increase in comparison with 8.5% of voters who registered on-line in 2019 and 17% of voters in 2018. 

In September, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Safety Company and the FBI warned that cyberattacks on election infrastructure can have an effect on entry to voting data however would not stop a voter from casting a poll. 

CISA did not reply to a request for remark concerning the investigation in Florida. 

Political activist teams in Florida are suing the state to increase the deadline past 7 hours for a further two days. 

The lawsuit argued that Florida’s election officers ought to have anticipated a spike in visitors on the voter registration deadline date, because it skilled related outages in 2018 and throughout the August main. 

Earlier than the outage, teams just like the Florida Immigrant Coalition had been registering a whole lot of latest voters each hour on Monday, the lawsuit mentioned. 

“Florida is conscious that there’s elevated visitors on guide closing days, however the State has not taken steps to make sure that the positioning has the required capability to accommodate the elevated demand,” in accordance with the lawsuit. 

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Alfred Ng