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Statewide IT Glitch Halts Virginia Voter Registration on Last Day

polling location
A statewide IT failure is interfering with early voting and voter registration. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

A national advocacy group is planning on filing litigation to extend Virginia's voter registration deadline beyond Tuesday. Their announcement comes after an IT glitch prevented Virginians from registering to vote on the final day state law allows.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law successfully sued the state in 2016 after the Virginia Department of Elections' website crashed, leading a federal judge to extend registration. Lacy Crawford, a spokesperson for the group, said in an email they were preparing to do so again.

“We anticipate filing litigation to secure relief for impacted people across Virginia,” Crawford said.

The IT outage is affecting everything from Virginia’s unemployment system to the DMV. It’s also causing some election offices, including Virginia Beach and Albemarle County, to use provisional ballots.

Officials with the state’s IT agency, Virginia Information Technologies Agency, blamed a cut fiber optic cable near a state data center in Chester, Virginia for the problem.

“Technicians are on site and working to repair the cut; updates will be provided as work progresses,” the agency Tweeted. Later, they clarified that a Verizon fiber was “inadvertently struck as part of activities associated with a roadside utilities project.”

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the ACLU of Virginia, and the state conference of the NAACP among others, have called for an extension to Virginia’s registration deadline.

That decision will likely be up to a judge; in 2016, a lawsuit prompted by a similar outage

Virginia’s outage comes after a tech failure with Florida’s IT system prompted a judge to briefly extend voter registration there last week.

This is a developing story.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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