Virginia voter website goes down on final day of registration

October 13, 2020 By iwano@_84 Off

Virginia’s online voter registration website went down Tuesday morning on the final day of voter registration because of a cut fiber cable, according to the Department of Elections.

Virginia’s online voter registration website went down Tuesday morning on the final day of voter registration before the 2020 election because of a cut fiber cable, according to the Department of Elections.

Multiple Virginia agencies were affected by the outage caused by the severed cable.

In a statement, the Virginia Department of Elections said the fiber cut happened near a data center operated by the Virginia Information Technology Agency off Route 10 in Chester, Virginia, south of Richmond.

The statement said technicians are “on site and working to repair the cut.”

The cut fiber was “impacting data circuits” and virtual private network, or VPN, connectivity for the department’s online citizens portal, which allows voters to register online, as well as local registrars’ offices across Virginia.

A message on the voter registration website Tuesday morning read: “Due to a network outage the Citizen Portal is temporarily unavailable. We are working with our network providers to restore service as quickly as possible.”

Voters can still register to vote in person at a local registrar’s office or print out a voter registration application and mail it to their local board of election. The application must be postmarked by Tuesday, Oct. 13.

In Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest county by population, director of elections Gary Scott said the outage wasn’t affecting the actual casting of ballots during early voting, because backup pollbook systems were still running.

“Unfortunately, I’ve got 300 staff sitting around here waiting to mail out absentee ballots and process registration applications who really can’t do anything,” he said, adding, “Everything else has come to a stop.”

This isn’t the first time Virginia’s online systems have crashed on the crucial final day of registration.

In 2016, thousands of Virginians attempting to register to vote by the deadline overwhelmed the online system causing it to crash. A federal judge later extended the registration deadline by a day and a half to give people who were locked out of the system more time to register.

Virginia’s Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said on Twitter he was calling for this year’s registration deadline to be extended because of the outage.

The cut fiber cable Tuesday morning also caused other Virginia websites to go down, including the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Employment Commission.

Read the full statement from the Virginia Department of Elections below:

This morning the Department of Elections was alerted by the Virginia Information Technology Agency that a fiber cut near Rt. 10 in Chester near the Commonwealth Enterprise Solutions Center (CESC) was impacting data circuits and virtual private network (VPN) connectivity for multiple Commonwealth agencies. This has affected the Department’s citizen portal along with local registrar’s offices across the Commonwealth. Technicians are on site and working to repair the cut; updates will be provided as work progresses.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli contributed to this report. 

 

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