ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP/WAVY) — A federal judge has granted a brief extension of Virginia’s voter registration deadline after heavy demand prevented some voters from registering online.
Judge Claude Hilton on Thursday ordered an immediate reopening of voter registration in the Commonwealth through Friday.
At a hearing in federal court in Alexandria, state officials actually wanted to extend the deadline even longer, through Monday. But Hilton said he only wanted to extend the process long enough to make up for the computer glitches that occurred in the hours leading up to the original Oct. 17 deadline.
A voter advocacy group sued state officials this week seeking the extension.
In the complaint filed Tuesday, the plaintiffs stated “Although Virginia has an online voter registration tool, many Virginia residents experienced problems when using this website, either due to significant delays in website responsiveness from October 15-17, 2016, or complete website failure resulting in a ‘file not found’ error message.”
It goes on to allege that “problems with the website prevented hundreds of Virginia residents from successfully completing online voter registration applications.”
Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a lengthy statement on the deadline being extended. The governor said, in part:
I am pleased that the court has agreed with the request to extend Virginia’s voter registration period after unprecedented web traffic prevented many people from completing their registrations online before the original deadline. The Commonwealth will fully comply with the court’s order and extend our registration process online, in-person and through the mail.
The Virginia Department of Elections and the Virginia Information Technology Agency have been working overtime since Monday night to expand the capacity of the system that allows Virginians to register to vote online, and I am confident that the steps we have taken will provide an improved experience to people who use it.”
The Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) Chairwoman Susan Swecker issued the following statement on the ruling:
We are pleased that the court has extended Virginia’s voter registration deadline so more people can cast votes in November. We thank Governor McAuliffe for his leadership and commitment to expanding voting rights in the Commonwealth. Virginians who haven’t registered should do so as soon as possible so they don’t miss out on this historic election at all levels of government. “Furthermore, we call upon Virginia’s elected officials and leaders to reject dangerous rhetoric aimed at undermining our democracy. Voting and the peaceful transfer of power are sacred tenants of American values – we must not undermine these institutions.”
Virginia elections commissioner Edgardo Cortes says the department will notify voters of the extension. They can register online, in person at their local general registrar’s office or by mail with a Friday postmark. Learn more about how to register here.
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