Virginia Extends Voter Registration After Site Went Down Hours Before Deadline
A federal court has extended Virginia's voter registration deadline after an accidentally clipped fiber optic cable took down the Department of Elections website on Tuesday for hours on the final day of voter registration.
Voters in Virginia will now be able to register until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, in person or online.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said a cable was cut during roadside work on a utilities project, knocking out of most of the state government's Internet service on Tuesday. The service was restored several hours later.
A coalition of groups, led by the New Virginia Majority Education Fund, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Richmond to extend the deadline. The groups argued that minority and younger voters would be disproportionately affected because they tend to register at higher rates in the final days before the deadline.
⚖️✊We sued, and we won. A court has granted an order to extend voter registration for 48 hours — until 11:59 PM Thursday. 👏🎉— New Virginia Majority (@NewVAMajority) October 14, 2020
SHARE WIDELY and go to https://t.co/iVQJjDkPze to register to vote now! #Election2020 pic.twitter.com/1tbNkZp5s7
BREAKING: Virginia's voter registration deadline has been extended until Thursday, October 15 at 11:59pm.— Governor Ralph Northam (@VAGovernor73) October 14, 2020
If you still need to register or update your information, you can do it online at https://t.co/fhp5mGEEAZ—you can also register and vote early at your registrar's office.
"Voting is a right, not a privilege, and everyone who is eligible must have the chance to cast their ballot during the 2020 election season," said Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, one of the groups that brought the lawsuit. "This extension is critical to ensuring that no eligible voter across Virginia is locked out and penalized as a result of the state's failure. This underscores the need for states to put in place backstops to address 11th hour issues and disruptions in our electoral process."
A record number of Virginians have already voted early, but the outage caused confusion among election clerks across the state on Tuesday.
This isn't the first time a court had to extend the state's voter registration deadline. In 2016, the registration website crashed due to a surge in applications on the final day to register. Voter advocacy groups sued and a federal court agreed to extend the deadline.