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Judge Gives Virginians One More Day to Register To Vote

Voting booth
The deadline for voter registration has been extended until midnight on Thursday, October 15 as a result of outages effecting several Virginia government websites. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM)

Virginia voters now have an extra day to register for the upcoming election. A federal judge has ordered the Virginia Department of Elections to extend the state’s voter registration deadline. This follows an outage Tuesday that crashed the website on the last day that residents could sign up. This outage began Tuesday in the early morning and lasted until about 4:00 p.m after utility workers accidentally damaged a fiber optic line in Chesterfield.

Advocacy groups, including the Virginia League of Women Voters and New Virginia Majority Education Fund, sued the Department of Elections to extend the deadline to 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, October 15. They argued the outage deprived eligible voters of the opportunity to register for the November election and hampered their ability to carry out their core mission. 

District Court Judge John Gibney agreed with those concerns at Wednesday’s hearing. 

“...But humans being humans, what has happened has happened and there will be irreparable harm because apparently many, many people were trying to register at the last minute,” he said. 

But Gibney said there are lessons to be learned about the incident, for both utility work and voting. 

“One is to call Miss Utility and the other is not to let things go to the last minute,” he said. 

The outage also knocked out online services at other agencies, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Health. 

A similar outage affected voters at the close of voter registration in October of 2016.