MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Groups such as The Dream Defenders and Organize Florida are suing the state to give potential voters at least two more days to register. They argue some people may not have been aware of the previous extension.
Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the voter registration deadline until Tuesday at 7 p.m. after the online system crashed Monday.
The crash may have stopped thousands of people from registering to vote.
Florida is now investigating why the system crashed, saying unexpectedly heavy traffic that can’t be immediately explained poured in during the closing hours.
Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who oversees the voting system, said in a statement Tuesday night that so far, there’s no evidence of interference or malicious activity that caused the state’s registration site to crash.
She previously said, “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.”
She then added, “Potential voter registrants should know that any applications received on Florida’s Online Voter Registration system today, October 6, 2020, will be included in the registration for the November 3, 2020, General Election.”
Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz had called on DeSantis to extend the deadline.
“The utter incompetence of Gov. Ron DeSantis in allowing the state’s voter registration website to crash on the very last day to register for the upcoming November election is, sadly, completely believable. His administrative buffoonery in operating the state’s unemployment system telegraphed today’s executive ineptitude,” said Wasserman Schultz in a statement. “However, this particular blunder intimates a continuing pattern of voter suppression that the governor has become notorious for. The governor must immediately extend the registration deadline to make up for all the voters he’s disenfranchised.”
Fried posted on Twitter that the website crash was unacceptable.
Not planning for a voter registration surge is voter suppression.
Not ensuring everyone who wants to register can do so is voter suppression.
— Nikki Fried (@nikkifried) October 6, 2020
“We are fighting for a voter registration extension for those who want to register to vote, but don’t wait until the last minute. The fight for America is on the ballot. Please make sure you have a voting plan. If you mail in your ballot, do it early and track it online. If you plan to vote in-person, remember, the best way to protect yourself is to follow my Be Smart Florida initiative — keep social distance, wash your hands, and wear a mask when you vote,” said Fried in a statement.
A civil rights group had threatened to sue if the governor did not extend the deadline. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said the breakdown unjustly deprived thousands of casting ballots for president and other offices. They call the governor’s extension woefully short.
“The state’s decision to extend the registration deadline is an acknowledgment that it failed the public when its online voter registration system crashed. A several hour extension leaves little time for meaningful notice and opportunity to be provided to the thousands of people impacted across the state. While we work to encourage the public to register, we will simultaneously push the state to expand the deadline further,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in a statement.
In Miami-Dade, Alejandra Vazquez says she encountered a problem, “When I tried to log in I was having problems. The system crashed so I came in person today.”
Vazquez and others went to the supervisor’s office in Doral to register to vote before the Tuesday deadline.
Sarah Dinkins, a Florida State University student, tried to help her younger sister register Monday night. They began trying about 9 p.m. and by 10:30 p.m. had not been successful.
“I feel very frustrated,” she said. “If the voting website doesn’t work, fewer people potentially Democratic voters will be able to vote.”
This is not the first major computer shutdown to affect the state government this year. For weeks in the spring, tens of thousands of Floridians who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic couldn’t file for unemployment benefits because of repeated crashes by that overwhelmed computer system, delaying their payments. DeSantis replaced the director overseeing that system but blamed the problems on his predecessor, fellow Republican Rick Scott, who is now a U.S. senator.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)