According to the Department of Elections, the Virginia voter registration website went down on the last day of voter registration Tuesday morning due to a fiber cable cut.
The Virginia voter registration online website was shut down Tuesday morning on the last day of voter registration prior to the 2020 election due to a fiber optic cable, according to the Election Department.
Several agencies in Virginia were affected by the outage caused by the severed cable.
In a statement, the Virginia Department of Elections said the fiber cut took place near a data center operated by the Virginia Information Technology Agency on Route 10 in Chester, Virginia, south of Richmond.
The statement states that the technicians are “on site and working to fix the cut”
The fiber cut affected the data circuits and virtual private network (VPN) connectivity for the department’s online citizen portal, which voters can use to register online, as well as local registrar offices across Virginia.
A message on the voter registration website read on Tuesday morning: “Due to a network failure, the Citizen Portal is temporarily unavailable. We are working with our network providers to restore service as soon as possible. “
Voters can still register to vote in person at a local registry office, or print out an application for voter registration and send it to their local electoral authority. The application must be postmarked by Tuesday, October 13th.
In Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest county by population, election supervisor Gary Scott said the outage would not affect actual voting during early voting because backup pollbook systems are still running.
“Unfortunately there are 300 employees here, waiting to send postal ballots and process registration applications that really can’t do anything,” he said, adding, “Everything else has stalled.”
This isn’t the first time Virginia’s online systems have crashed on the crucial final day of registration.
In 2016, thousands of Virgins trying to register to vote by the deadline have overwhelmed the online system and caused it to crash. A federal judge later extended the registration deadline by a day and a half to give people excluded from the system more time to register.
Virginia Governor Justin Fairfax said on Twitter that he is calling for this year’s registration deadline to be extended because of the outage.
I am officially requesting that the Virginia registration deadline be extended beyond today as service interruptions affect voters’ ability to register nationwide.
We will work with the administration to resolve this issue and ensure that all voters have access to #Vote. https://t.co/PKt3vKoOnu
– Justin Fairfax (@LGJustinFairfax) October 13, 2020
The fiber optic cable cut Tuesday morning also caused other Virginia websites to go down, including the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Employment Commission.
Read the full statement from the Virginia Department of Elections below:
This morning the Virginia Information Technology Agency notified the Election Department that a fiber had been cut near RT. 10 in Chester near the Commonwealth Enterprise Solutions Center (CESC) impacted data connections and virtual private network (VPN) connectivity for several Commonwealth agencies. This has an impact on the Department’s Citizen Portal as well as the offices of local registrars across the Commonwealth. Technicians are on site working to fix the cut. Updates will be provided as the work progresses.
Nick Iannelli from WTOP contributed to this report.
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