A cut cable causes Virginia voter website to crash on final day of registration for election

Virginia’s voter registration website went down on Tuesday, the final day for people in the state to register ahead of Election Day. The website was down until the early afternoon for more than five and a half hours.

“Due to a network outage, the Citizen Portal is temporarily unavailable,” the Virginia Department of Elections wrote on its site Tuesday morning. 

Officials tweeted that a “fiber cut” in Chester, near the Commonwealth Enterprise Solutions Center, impacted connectivity for multiple state agencies. The cut cable, which appeared to be an accident, affected both the voting portal and the registrar’s offices. 

“We are working with our network providers to restore service as quickly as possible,” the department said. “Please check back later for your online voter registration or absentee needs.”

While the site was down, voters were directed to fill out and print a paper application for voter registration and a paper application for voting by mail. 

At about 3:30 p.m., officials tweeted that the site was working again, but provided no further explanation.

When the site was down, angry voters took to social media to demand a deadline extension, calling the outage “voter suppression.” Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax called on the state to extend the voter registration deadline due to the outage. 

Election 2020 

“I am officially calling for Virginia’s Registration Deadline to be extended beyond today due to the service outages impacting voters’ ability to register statewide,” Fairfax tweeted. “We will work with the Administration to resolve this issue and ensure all voters have access to #Vote.”

Virginia’s voter registration portal faced a similar outage in 2016, when a computer glitch crashed the site the day of the voter registration deadline. A judge extended the registration deadline at the time after several civil rights groups sued for the extension. 

Tuesday is the final day to register to vote in Virginia, Washington D.C., Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon and West Virginia. Last week, the deadlines in both Arizona and Florida were both extended.

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