Goof in Virginia Leads to New Voter Registration Deadline

A cable was severed Tuesday, taking down the online voter registration system
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 14, 2020 11:41 AM CDT
Virginians Get More Time to Register to Vote After Accident
Voters line up outside to cast ballots in the general election at the Henrico County general registrar's office in Henrico County, Va., on Sept. 18, 2020, on the first day of the state's 45-day early voting period.   (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)

A federal judge has extended the deadline for registering to vote in Virginia by 48 hours after the state's online voter registration system went down because of an accidentally severed cable. Wednesday's order by US District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. in Richmond is an effort to make up for several hours of lost time on Tuesday, which had been the last day to register before the November general election. The shutdown of the state's website caused "a tremendous harm" to the people who want to register to vote, Gibney said. Both the voting rights advocates seeking the extension and the Virginia state officials they sued agreed that more time should be granted. The deadline to register to vote is now 11:59pm on Thursday and applies to both online and in-person registration, reports the AP.

Americans are "21 days away from the most important election of our lifetimes, and I want to make sure that every Virginian who wants to vote has the opportunity to do so," Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement Tuesday night. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law had sought the extension. Voting advocates said the accident couldn't have come at a worse time and lambasted state officials for the failure. Many people wait until the the day of the deadline to register, particularly after being reminded on social media and in the news. State officials said a 10-gigabit optical fiber circuit was inadvertently cut during a Chesterfield County roadside utilities project. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said the state lacked a backup plan for this particular cable, and the episode shows the need for the state to continue its efforts at creating a secure network.

(More voter registration stories.)

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