Outrage After Louisiana Voter Registration Website Shut Down on National Voter Registration DaySeptember 23, 2020
Louisiana’s online voter registration portal was inactive Tuesday, coinciding with National Voter Registration Day. Users attempting to access the site were greeted with a message claiming it was down due to “scheduled maintenance.”
Unregistered voters and those looking to request absentee ballots were unable to access the portal until Tuesday midnight. The portal, which can be accessed on https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/, is now active again.
The glitch on Louisiana’s voter registration website was noticed by WDSU news anchor Christina Watkins.
“I went online last night to check my status and that’s how we noticed it first. I was like wait….so I refreshed and put in the website a few different ways. Each time, I got the same ‘scheduled maintenance’ message,” she told Newsweek.
Scheduled maintenance? On #NationalVoterRegistrationDay? @Louisiana_sos This is the specific link to register to vote or to change registration â> https://t.co/Mz1ZMy9PwG @wdsu pic.twitter.com/fdoGUQg6h0
— Christina Watkins (@CWatkinsWDSU) September 23, 2020
Louisiana’s Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, whose cabinet manages the website as he is the chief election officer of the state, posted a tweet reminding his state’s residents of Voter Registration Week on Monday.
Today is the beginning of #VoterRegistratonWeek! Your parish registrar is ready to register you to vote or update your registration. Make sure you are ready to #GeauxVote for the upcoming election! Read more here: https://t.co/NCRYD94DFo #GeauxVoteLouisiana #GeauxVote pic.twitter.com/k6S4szpxC1
— La. Sec. of State (@Louisiana_sos) September 21, 2020
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards also encouraged those in his state to register to vote yesterday, tweeting: “The best part about our democracy is the ability to participate in it. Get registered to vote and make sure your voice is heard. Our state is better when everyone actively participates.”
He included a link to the secretary of state’s page on registering to vote, which then redirected users to the webpage which was not active, bringing some to reply to the governor’s tweet including screenshots of the maintenance message.
Louisiana State Representative Royce Duplessis told Newsweek: “This is clearly not a coincidence. The Secretary of State’s job should be to ensure that everyone participates in the voting process. Instead, he has chosen to engage in brazen attempts to block certain individuals from voting.”
Newsweek has contacted the secretary of state’s office and the governor’s office for comment.
Today is National Voter Registration Day and the link to register to vote on the @Louisiana_sos website is down for maintenance! This is an absolute DISGRACE! Truly shameful and pathetic!! #LaLege #LaGov #VoteReady @PowerCoEJ @NAACP_LDF @urbanleaguela @ACLUofLouisiana pic.twitter.com/Q6bexjSqcz
— Royce Duplessis (@RoyceDuplessis) September 23, 2020
National Voter Registration Day is a civic holiday which takes place on the fourth Tuesday of September with the aim of encouraging citizens to register to vote. This year, it took place on September 22. The holiday was first observed in 2012 and according to its website, 1.3 million people registered to vote on the date in 2018-2019.
Earlier this month, a federal court in Louisiana ordered state authorities to expand the local early voting period and allow more people to apply for absentee ballots under the same emergency coronavirus pandemic measures used in summer elections.
The ruling reinstated the absentee voting rules that applied to the statewide primaries held in July and August, which the secretary of state sought to roll back for the November election.
The proposed new measures under emergency pandemic rules for the presidential and congressional elections would have required some voters to test positive for coronavirus if they wanted to receive an absentee ballot. This requirement was not in place for primaries held during the summer.
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