Florida extends voter registration deadline after website failure

Florida secretary of state Laurel Lee speaks.

Florida secretary of state Laurel Lee speaks at a news conference in Tallahassee, Fla. | Steve Cannon/AP Photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida extended the deadline for voter registration after the state’s online portal crashed under the weight of heavy traffic hours before the Oct. 5 deadline.

Registration will be open for an additional seven hours, from noon to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Secretary of State Laurel Lee said in a written statement.


The move should short-circuit a lawsuit that civil rights and voting groups were preparing to file early Tuesday.

Lee met with Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday to review trouble with the portal. In a written statement, she said the site’s failure appeared to be linked to “unprecedented volume and traffic” and that her office “will work with our state and federal law-enforcement partners to ensure this was not a deliberate act against the voting process.”

The portal went down Monday afternoon, hours before the midnight deadline for registering.

Democrats called the failure a deliberate effort to suppress registration ahead of the November election. With President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden on the ballot, turnout is expected to be high in Trump’s adopted home state. Trump is unlikely to win a second term if he cannot win in Florida, a presidential battleground where polls have Biden with a slight lead.

Florida’s decision to extend its voter registration comes a day after a federal judge extended the Monday registration deadline in Arizona until Oct. 23, saying that the coronavirus pandemic had curtailed efforts to register voters face-to-face and that many people in the state lacked access to the internet.

Lee, in a tweet posted at about 5 p.m. Monday evening, said the portal had gone down for about 15 minutes. But the problems continued through the evening as