As Floridians rushed to register to vote in the 2020 election, the state’s registration site appeared to be down for over three hours — with less than three hours remaining before the midnight deadline.
There’s currently no indication that the site’s failure was the result of anything more sinister than traffic straining server capacity or a system error, but the result was the same no matter the cause: Any Florida voter trying to register to vote before the midnight deadline could not do so for hours.
Florida’s secretary of state Laurel M. Lee claimed on Twitter that the outage was caused by “high volume” and affected the site only for 15 minutes, and that more capacity was added ahead of the deadline.
However, the outage was reported as early as 5:33 p.m. ET. When multiple Mashable staffers attempted to access the site from a number of locations from 9 p.m. ET on Monday, none could load the site successfully. Attempts were greeted by 502 error pages or browser timeouts until around 9:23 p.m., when service appeared to return.
OVR is online and working. Due to high volume, for about 15 minutes, some users experienced delays while trying to register. We have increased capacity. You can register until midnight tonight.
Thank you to those who immediately brought this to our attention.
— Laurel M. Lee (@FLSecofState) October 5, 2020
The Pennsylvania voter services website also crashed over the weekend, although the deadline to register in that state is not until Oct. 19.
This is not the first time Florida’s voter registration site has crashed right before the deadline to register. In 2018, ahead of the midterm elections, the site went down on the last day to sign up, the Miami Herald reported.
According to a tweet by Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa, the site also crashed on National Voter Registration Day this year.
While the site appears to be back up and running, it’s impossible to know how many Floridians may have attempted to register and given up in the face of the crash. Floridians could have also registered to vote in person at various government agencies during business hours or by mail. But the state does market registering online as the easiest option, the Herald reported.
There have been calls for the deadline to be extended at least for another 24 hours to give people extra time to register.