Florida investigating voter registration web site outage, extends deadline


Florida’s voter registration web site obtained 1.1 million requests an hour on Monday night time, inflicting an outage.

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This story is a part of Elections 2020, CNET’s protection of the run-up to voting in November.

After a seven-hour outage of Florida’s voter registration web site on Monday, voters within the state got one other probability to register on Tuesday. The unique deadline to register to vote in Florida was finish of day Monday, however that was prolonged to 7 p.m. Tuesday due to the outage. 

Florida’s voter registration web site went down beginning at round 5 p.m. Monday, and the outage remained a problem previous the midnight deadline, Gov. Ron DeSantis mentioned at a press convention Tuesday.

“It is working now, but when 500,000 folks descend on the similar time, I imply, it creates a bottleneck,” DeSantis mentioned Tuesday. “It clearly wasn’t clean since you had a lot visitors. Hopefully it’s going to be tremendous.”

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Monday’s outage wasn’t the primary time technical difficulties have affected Florida residents. The voter registration web site was taken offline in 2019 for upkeep days earlier than Nationwide Voter Registration Day. The state’s residents have additionally complained about Florida’s unemployment web site experiencing outages in April. 

Florida is taken into account a essential swing state for the 2020 US presidential election. In the course of the 2016 election it skilled cyberattacks affecting voter registration databases in two counties. 

The state’s election officers are nonetheless investigating what prompted Monday’s outage and mentioned the positioning obtained an “extraordinarily excessive quantity of visitors.”

“Throughout the previous few hours, the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov web site was accessed by an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour,” Secretary of State Laurel Lee mentioned in an announcement.  “We are going to work with our state and federal legislation enforcement companions to make sure this was not a deliberate act towards the voting course of.”

That quantity of visitors is sort of 5 instances the voter registration web site’s regular quantity of visitors all yr. About 213,000 Florida residents to this point have registered on-line in 2020, in line with Politico

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Safety Company mentioned there are not any indicators of a cyberattack inflicting the outage. 

“Yesterday, Florida’s voter registration web site was unavailable for parts of the night as a consequence of a excessive quantity of visitors. At this level, there is no such thing as a indication of malicious exercise inflicting the outage,” an company spokesperson mentioned. “We are going to proceed to observe the scenario and assist Florida and different states in defending the 2020 election.”

Cloudflare’s CEO Matthew Prince mentioned Monday night time there have been no indications of a cyberattack towards Florida’s voter registration web site.   

As of Aug. 31, Florida had 14.1 million registered voters within the state, in line with public information. About 32% of these newly registered voters got here from the web portal. That compares with 8.5% of voters who registered on-line in 2019 and 17% in 2018. 

In September, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Safety Company warned that cyberattacks on election infrastructure can have an effect on entry to voting info however would not forestall a voter from casting a poll. 

Political activist teams in Florida are suing the state to increase the deadline past the seven hours, for an extra two days. 

The lawsuit argued that Florida’s election officers ought to have anticipated a spike in visitors on the voter registration deadline date as a result of it skilled related outages in 2018 and through the August major. 

Earlier than the outage, teams just like the Florida Immigrant Coalition have been registering a whole lot of recent voters each hour on Monday, the lawsuit mentioned. 

“Florida is conscious that there’s elevated visitors on e-book closing days, however the State has not taken steps to make sure that the positioning has the mandatory capability to accommodate the elevated demand,” in line with the lawsuit. 

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