RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The voter registration deadline has been extended after a court hearing Wednesday morning.
This comes after the registration portal experienced an outage due to a Verizon fiber had been inadvertently struck as part of activities related to a Chesterfield County roadside utilities project, located off of Route 10 in Chester.
“We got calls from some panicked Virginians saying, ‘oh my gosh the portal is down, what do we do? How do we check our status? We wanted to register to vote,’” said Tram Nguyen, who heads the New Virginia Majority, a group that works to expand voting rights.
The deadline has been extended to Oct. 15 at 11:59 p.m.
“This is an important election, voting is the foundation of our democracy, so if anybody’s eligible and hasn’t registered they have through [Thursday] to do that,” said Governor Ralph Northam.
“I was really concerned that Virginians who were planning on registering on the online portal we’re not able to do so, and we’ve got one of the most important elections coming up in memory, and it’s really important for Virginians who are eligible to vote and want to vote to do so, and do so safely,” said Attorney General Mark Herring.
Sheilah Frattini, Hanover’s Deputy Registrar, says after the site was fixed Wednesday afternoon, they had more than 200 people register to vote.
“By the end of last night we had received 232 voter registration applications between 1:30 p.m. and midnight, since midnight last night we have received 42 online applications, we have received five in the office, and taken six phone calls,” she said.
The Richmond Registrar’s Office says they haven’t had a rush Wednesday, but they’ve had a few applications.
But she says they were expecting more; Attorney General Mark Herring hopes more may register after the word is out.
“It really just seems to make the most sense to extend the deadline two days to get the word out today and then people will be able to register either today or tomorrow on the online portal,” he said.
And since the pandemic has limited many face-to-face interactions, groups are getting creative to promote the message.
“We’ve been doing social media campaigns, we’re phone banking folks, we’re texting voters so we’re using every avenue available to us to make sure Virginians are aware of the extension of the deadline,” Nguyen said.
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