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Florida Voter Registration Deadline Extended To 7 P.M. ET Tonight After System Crash

Several red yard signs with "vote here" printed on them
Tom Hagerty

Florida is extending its voter registration to 7 p.m. tonight Eastern Time after the state’s website crashed yesterday evening. Secretary of State Laurel Lee says the failure happened because the system got overloaded.

In a statement, Lee says the state’s online registration portal was receiving 1.1 million requests per hour right before it crashed.

“During the last few hours, the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov website was accessed by an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour. We will work with our state and federal law-enforcement partners to ensure this was not a deliberate act against the voting process.”

Such a move is similar to what are known as DDoS attacks, where websites are intentionally bombarded with requests in an attempt to disrupt the normal flow of traffic.

Voter registration applications will now be accepted in-person to local supervisors of elections, tax collector officers and DMV’s. Paper applications postmarked by today will also be accepted along with those submitted online.

State Agriculture Commissioner and Democrats worry the deadline is too tight and doesn’t leave enough time to property inform voters. She wants to see it extended another day.

“Gov. DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee should be ashamed of themselves for offering minimal time to disenfranchised Floridians who were excluded from registering to vote yesterday," said Brad Ashwell with the group All Voting is Local, in a statement.

“Not everybody has the ability to easily hop online or leave work to register to fulfill their constitutional right to vote. We, along with 34 organizations, made it clear that the extension needs to run until October 7 at 11:59 pm and the state must undertake an aggressive educational campaign - in English and Spanish - so no Floridian is disenfranchised."

Update 7:50 p.m.: Statement from Sec. of State Lee:
"The Florida Department of State has been in touch with state and federal law enforcement partners since yesterday to discuss the issues that affected Florida's Online Voter Registration system on Monday, October 5, 2020. At this time, we have not identified any evidence of interference or malicious activity impacting the site. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide any additional information as it develops."

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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