Florida voter registration website experiences issues hours before deadline

Noble Horvath

Florida’s online voter registration system appeared to encounter problems Monday evening, with only hours to go before the registration deadline for the 2020 general election. Some Floridians attempting to access RegistertovoteFlorida.gov found slow responses or error messages. Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who oversees the elections website, tweeted […]

Florida’s online voter registration system appeared to encounter problems Monday evening, with only hours to go before the registration deadline for the 2020 general election.

Some Floridians attempting to access RegistertovoteFlorida.gov found slow responses or error messages.

Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who oversees the elections website, tweeted just before 6 p.m. that some users had “experienced delays while trying to register” due to high volume on the site. In the tweet, Lee said the state had increased capacity and that the problem had only occurred for about 15 minutes.

However, a Times reporter could not access the site on their mobile phone after Laurel’s tweet was sent out or an hour later.

A spokesman for the Florida Department of State did not immediately respond to a voicemail and email sent just after 6 p.m.

Floridians have until midnight to register online if they want to be eligible to vote in the 2020 general election.

Juan Peñalosa, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, tweeted that the website problems were “voter suppression” and pointed to other times the state’s website had had problems.

Indeed, this is not the first time the state has had glitches with its voter registration website during peak demand times, including ahead of the 2018 voter registration deadline.

In June, Department of State spokesman Mark Ard said his department had “rigorously tested the online voter registration site, RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov, for capacity and we are confident that the system will be able to process and support Florida’s voters and potential voters registering or updating their voter registration before the August and November elections.”

He added that the state “will continually upgrade to increase functionality of the site and system.”

Ard did not respond at the time to specific questions about the site’s capacity or how many concurrent users the system could support.

“History is repeating itself, and Florida voters continue to bear the burden of ineptitude as a result of negligence,” said Brad Ashwell, Florida state director of the voting rights group, All Voting is Local.

He called on Lee and Gov. Ron DeSantis to extend the voter registration deadline.

Ashwell said his organization had made “repeated attempts” to work with the state “to fix the faulty website,” including finding an independent vendor to stress-test the system, which he said the state declined.

“No aspiring voter should be silenced because the state can’t maintain a functioning website,” Ashwell said.

Tampa Bay Times elections coverage

Voter guide is coming soon: The Tampa Bay Times will publish a special election section Sunday, Oct. 18 with information on local races. You can also access our Know Your Candidates guide at tampabay.com/voterguide beginning Sunday, Oct. 11.

AMENDMENTS: State constitutional amendments on the 2020 ballot, explained.

FELONY CONVICTION? Here are Florida’s rules for registering to vote.

MAIL-IN BALLOTS: So you want to vote by mail in Florida? Here’s what you need to know.

POSTAL SERVICE CONCERNS: What’s going on with the U.S. Postal Service and should Florida be worried?

HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT VOTING IN FLORIDA? WE HAVE THE ANSWERS: We’ve compiled information on voter registration deadlines, rules for voting by mail and more.

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