Oct 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Florida voter registration site crashes hours before deadline

The Miami-Dade County Elections Department mailed out via the U.S. Post Office more than 530,000 vote-by-mail ballots to voters with a request on file for the November 3, 2020 General Election
A worker at the Miami-Dade County Election Department prepares a voting booth on Oct. 1 to be used in the general election in Doral, Florida. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida Democrats are demanding Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) launch an investigation after the state's voter registration website for November's election crashed Monday hours before enrollment closed at midnight.

Driving the news: Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee tweeted Monday evening, "Due to high volume, for about 15 minutes, some users experienced delays while trying to register. We have increased capacity." Several people replied to her post saying the site was still down and asked for the deadline to be extended.

What they're saying: Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried (D) tweeted to DeSantis, "Not planning for a voter registration surge is voter suppression. Not ensuring everyone who wants to register can do so is voter suppression. Not extending the deadline is voter suppression."

  • Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo said in a statement, "This is just latest attempt from the Republican leaders in Florida to limit democracy.
"The Florida Voter Registration website not working on the last day to register to vote in Florida is blatant voter suppression. Fix the website, stop the suppression, and let democracy work."

The other side: DeSantis' office did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment and Lee's office could not be reached by phone. But Lee told Politico that her office was "working now to see if there's an ongoing problem."

  • Republican Party of Florida Vice Chair Christian Ziegler tweeted that the Democrats were "playing politics," declaring "we are crushing the Dems in registration."
  • He added in a statement that Democrats "like to make it seem like there’s some conspiracy out there," per the Tampa Bay Times.

Of note: State Sen. Jason Pizzo (D-Miami Beach) tweeted that he had spoken to Lee about the site crash.

  • "Her agency continues to monitor disruptions, and is exploring whether they can extend deadline for those who continue to experience issues," he said.

The big picture: Florida is a key battleground state in November's election.

  • The Cook Political Report this month predicted that the presidential election winner would be a "toss up" between President Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden.
  • Florida's online voter portal has experienced "glitches" in other years, notably "ahead of the 2018 voter registration deadline," per the Tampa Bay Times.

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