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Virginia judge extends voter registration for 48 hours following system outage

Officials say that a cut cable is to blame for the "temporary" system shutdown.

RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia judge has granted a request to extend voter registration for 48 hours following technical issues that caused the commonwealth's voter registration portal to shut down for hours on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, Jr. in Richmond gave the order Wednesday. The shutdown of the state’s website caused “a tremendous harm” to the people who want to register to vote, Gibney said. 

The deadline to register to vote is now 11:59 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 15. It includes both online and in-person registration.

“Today’s agreement to extend the voter registration deadline is a big win for democracy. Any eligible Virginian who was not able to register to vote yesterday can now do so,” said Attorney General Herring“I have made it a top priority over the last several months to protect Virginians’ right to vote by making it as easy, safe and secure as possible, and this agreement is no different. I will continue to fight to make sure that every eligible Virginian can vote in this crucial election and that their vote will count.”

An accidentally cut cable caused the entire Virginia voter registration system to go down for hours on the last day to register to vote before election day, according to the Virginia Information Technology Agency (VITA). Just before 3:30 p.m., the Virginia Department of Elections tweeted out that the registration portal was back up and functioning properly. 

Virginians are once again able to register to vote online with identification, or in-person at their voter registrar's offices.

VITA  tweeted that a fiber cut near Route 10 in Chester, Virginia was to blame for Tuesday's outage. 

"Technicians learned that 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, Virginia," VITA said in a statement. 

There was no time estimate given on when the problem would be fixed.

"Due to a network outage, the Citizen Portal is temporarily unavailable," the Virginia Department of Elections posted on their registration website Tuesday morning. "We are working with our network providers to restore service as quickly as possible." 

Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote across Virginia, D.C. and Maryland.

You can check if you're already registered at vote.elections.virginia.gov. You may register to vote at your local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office or request an application from your local general registrar.

Additional information about registering to vote in Virginia can be found here or at your local registrar's website.

Northam said during his Tuesday afternoon coronavirus briefing how he does not appear to have the authority to extend the voter registration deadline, according to state code, and this would come from the courts. However, the governor expressed support for a court order to extend the deadline.

“I look forward to [the courts] assisting us and making sure we can extend the deadline,” Northam said.

Virginia Secretary of Administration Keyanna Conner mentioned during Tuesday's coronavirus briefing that she hopes services will be re-instated this afternoon.

“We hope to have a temporary solution in place by 4 p.m. that will bring our services back online," Conner said.

Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax wrote on Twitter calling for Virginia's voter registration deadline to be extended given the statewide outage.

"I am officially calling for Virginia's Registration Deadline to be extended beyond today due to the service outages impacting voters' ability to register statewide," Fairfax said. "We will work with the Administration to resolve this issue and ensure all voters have access to vote."

If you've already received your mail-in ballot, your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and must be received to the Virginia Board of Elections by Nov. 6 at noon.

Before mailing your ballot in, make sure that you've signed everywhere that needs to be signed. If not, your ballot could be thrown out. This includes the voter's oath or your return envelope, and anything pertaining to your witness requirements.  

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