Florida’s voter registration website was suspended for seven hours on Monday, and voters in the state had another chance to register on Tuesday,media CNET reported. Florida’s original deadline for voter registration was midnight Monday, but was extended to 7 p.m. on Tuesday because of a malfunction.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday that Florida’s voter registration website has been down since around 5 p.m. on Monday, passing the midnight deadline, and that the failure remains a problem. He said the site is expected to work for Florida voters on Tuesday.
“It’s working right now, but if half a million people use it at the same time, I mean, it creates a bottleneck,” DeSantis said. “Obviously, it didn’t go well because you had so much traffic. I hope it will be all right. “
Monday’s failure isn’t the first time technical difficulties have affected Florida voters. A few days before National Voter Registration Day 2019, the voter registration website was shut down and maintained. Residents of the state also complained that Florida’s job sites were disrupted in April.
Florida, considered a key swing state in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, experienced cyberattacks affecting voter registration databases in two counties during the 2016 election.
Election officials in the state are still investigating what caused Monday’s failure and said the site received “extremely high traffic.”
“In the past few hours, the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov website has received an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour,” Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee said in a statement. “We will work with our state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure that this is not a deliberate act against the voting process,” he said.
This is nearly five times the normal annual traffic on voter registration sites. So far, about 213,000 Florida residents have registered to vote online in 2020, Politico reported.
As of August 31, Florida had 14.1 million registered voters, according to public records. About 32 percent of the state’s newly registered voters come from online portals. By comparison, 8.5 per cent of voters registered online in 2019 and 17 per cent in 2018.
In September, the U.S. Bureau of Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned that cyberattacks on election infrastructure could affect access to voting information, but would not prevent voters from voting. CISA did not respond to a request for comment on the Florida investigation.
Matthew Prince, cloudflare’s chief executive, said late Monday that there was no indication that Florida’s voter registration website had been hacked.
Political activist groups in Florida are suing the state for extending the deadline beyond seven hours for another two days. The lawsuit argues that Florida election officials should have anticipated a surge in voter registration deadlines because it experienced similar failures during the 2018 and August primaries.
Before the outage, groups like the Florida Immigration Coalition registered hundreds of new voters every hour on Monday, the lawsuit said.
“Florida is aware of the increase in traffic during the deadline, but the state has not taken steps to ensure that the site has the necessary capacity to accommodate the increased demand,” the lawsuit states. “