Florida investigating voter registration site outage, extends deadline


Florida’s voter registration website received 1.1 million requests an hour on Monday night, causing an outage.

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This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

Voters in Florida will have another chance to register on Tuesday after a seven hour long outage on the state’s voter registration website on Monday. The original deadline to register to vote in Florida was midnight on Monday, but has been extended to 7 p.m. on Tuesday because of the outage. 

Florida’s voter registration website went down starting around 5 p.m. on Monday, and remained an issue past the midnight deadline, the state’s governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference on Tuesday. He said it’s expected to be working for Florida voters on Tuesday. 

“It’s working now, but if 500,000 people descend at the same time, I mean it creates a bottleneck,” DeSantis said. “It obviously wasn’t smooth because you had so much traffic. Hopefully it’ll be fine.”

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Monday’s outage wasn’t the first time technical difficulties affected Florida voters, with the voter registration website taken offline in 2019 for maintenance days before National Voter Registration Day. The state’s residents have also complained about Florida’s unemployment website experiencing outages in April. 

Florida is considered a crucial swing state for the 2020 US presidential election, and experienced cyberattacks affecting voter registration databases in two counties during the 2016 election. 

The state’s election officials are still investigating what caused the outage, and said it received “an extremely high volume of traffic” to the website.

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

That amount of traffic is nearly five times the voter registration website’s normal amount of traffic all year. About 213,000 Florida residents registered to vote online in 2020, according to Politico

As of Aug. 31, Florida had 14.1 million registered voters in the state, according to public records. 

In September, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned that cyberattacks on election infrastructure can affect access to voting information, but would not prevent a voter from casting a ballot. 

CISA didn’t respond to a request for comment about the investigation in Florida. 

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