Severed cable shuts down online voter registration in Virginia
A severed fiber-optic cable knocked out online voter registration in Virginia on Tuesday — the last day to register before the November election, officials said.
The Virginia Department of Elections tweeted in the morning that a “fiber cut” was impacting connectivity for several agencies, including the citizen portal and registrar’s offices. Technicians were on site to repair the cable.
The Verizon cable was “inadvertently struck” during a roadside utilities project in Chester near Route 10, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency tweeted.
At 2 p.m., Lindsay LeGrand, a spokeswoman for the agency that provides technology services to the state, estimated to the Washington Post that service would be restored “in the next couple of hours.”
Some voter advocacy groups, as well as Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, called for a court order to extend the voter registration deadline beyond Tuesday.
Residents complained to local election offices that they were unable to register to vote or had to stop early voting.
Judy Brown, the general registrar in Loudoun County, told the Washington Post that there’s been little information from the Department of Elections.
“It’s terrible because we’re sitting here and we have no idea what’s happening,” she said.
Brown’s office had to manually confirm the registration status of Loudoun County residents casting early ballots on Tuesday.
She said her office was also unable to process voter registration applications and couldn’t print labels needed to send absentee ballots.
Technical difficulties have hampered voting in Virginia before.
In 2016, an unknown number of people were unable to register because of unprecedented demand sparked by social media posts reminding people of the registration deadline.
Voter advocacy group the New Virginia Majority Education Fund sued for an extension, which was granted by a federal judge to make up for the computer glitches.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which filed the 2016 suit, blasted officials for the issues Tuesday.
The committee’s executive director Kristen Clarke said state election officials “have again failed the public.”
“This error is particularly astounding given that this same problem occurred at virtually the same time in 2016,” she said. “It is astonishing that Virginia has not learned from failures of the not-so-distant past.”
With Post wires
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