A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia extended the voter registration deadline by 48 hours on Wednesday, after a severed cable caused an online voter registration system outage on Tuesday. Voters are now able to register on the Virginia Department of Elections website until 11:59 PM Thursday, or at their local Department of Elections office until closing at 5:00 PM.
Plaintiffs in the case, New Virginia Majority Educational Fund, Virginia Civic Engagement Table and League of Women Voters of Virginia filed a complaint Tuesday. They alleged:
Unless the voter registration deadline is extended to October 15, 2020, Plaintiffs’ members and others will be deprived of their fundamental right to vote in the November 3, 2020, election. Unless the voter registration deadline is extended to October 15, 2020, Plaintiffs New Virginia Majority Educational Fund, Virginia Civic Engagement Table, and League of Women Voters of Virginia will have lost the opportunity to carry out their core mission and activity of assisting citizens to register to vote during one of the busiest registration days in four years in Virginia.
US District Judge John Gibney agreed with the plaintiffs’ claim that the outage imposed a “significant burden” on the fundamental right to vote by “depriving citizens who were unable to register to vote in advance of the deadline of that right altogether.” He ordered the Virginia State Board of Elections (BOE) to “provide additional information to the public and to voters attempting to register of alternative methods by which individuals may register to vote.”
Further, he ordered the BOE to notify the public. Specifically, “the commissioner shall issue a press release describing this order by 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 14 2020.” Thursday is the last day to register to vote in the November 3 general election.