Advocates file federal lawsuit against Virginia Dept. of Elections after online voter registration shutdown

A fiber cut caused the voter registration portal to experience outage

Advocates file federal lawsuit against Virginia Dept. of Elections after online voter registration shutdown
Virginia officials and agencies have called on Governor Northam for an extension on the state’s voter registration deadline. (Source: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT/AP) - A severed fiber optic cable that shut down Virginia’s online voter registration system has prompted a lawsuit from a civil rights organization.

Tuesday was the deadline to register to vote in Virginia before Election Day.

The Virginia Department of Elections said Tuesday in a statement on Twitter that a cut cable was affecting connectivity for multiple agencies, including the citizen portal and registrar’s offices.

The state’s IT agency tweeted that the cable was inadvertently cut during a Chesterfield County roadside utilities project. Six hours later, the portal was back online. But the fallout led to concerns that voters were being disenfranchised at a crucial moment.

This comes after Virginia officials and agencies have called on Governor Northam for an extension on the state’s voter registration deadline after a fiber cut caused the voter registration portal to experience an outage on the deadline to register. However, Northam says he does not have the power to extend the deadline.

“That deadline is it in our code and it does not appear that I have the authority to change it," said Northam. "That is up to the courts, and I would support a court-ordered extension.”

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax also called for the state’s registration deadline to be extended.

“I have asked the court to extend the voter registration deadline because it’s so important to make up for the time Virginians lost today and give people an opportunity to register to vote if they have not yet done so,” said Attorney General Mark Herring said. “Over the last several months, I have worked hard to reach agreements and take other actions to protect Virginians' right to vote and this situation is no different. We are 21 days away from the most important election of our lifetimes and I want to make sure that every Virginian who wants to vote has the opportunity to do so.”

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m.

To read the lawsuit, click here.

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