Florida investigating voter registration site outage, extends deadline – CNET

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Florida's voter registration website received 1.1 million requests an hour on Monday night, causing an outage.

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This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

                                    </a><p class="speakableTextP1">After a seven-hour outage of Florida's voter registration website on Monday, voters in the state were given another chance to register on Tuesday. The original deadline to register to vote in Florida was end of day Monday, but that was extended to 7 p.m. Tuesday because of the outage. </p><p class="speakableTextP2">Florida's voter registration website went down starting at around 5 p.m. Monday, and the outage remained an issue past the midnight deadline, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a press conference Tuesday.

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“It's working now, but if 500,000 people descend at the same time, I mean, it creates a bottleneck,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “It obviously wasn't smooth because you had so much traffic. Hopefully it'll be fine.”

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Monday's outage wasn't the first time technical difficulties have affected Florida residents. The voter registration website was <a href="https://miami.cbslocal.com/2019/09/23/florida-voter-registration-site-temporarily-taken-down-for-maitenance-democrats-skeptical/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" data-component="externalLink">taken offline in 2019 for maintenance</a> days before National Voter Registration Day. The state's residents have also complained about <a href="https://miami.cbslocal.com/2019/09/23/florida-voter-registration-site-temporarily-taken-down-for-maitenance-democrats-skeptical/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank" data-component="externalLink">Florida's unemployment website experiencing outages</a> in April. 

Florida is considered a crucial swing state for the 2020 US presidential election. During the 2016 election it experienced cyberattacks affecting voter registration databases in two counties. 

The state's election officials are still investigating what caused Monday's outage and said the site received an “extremely high volume of traffic.”

“During the last few hours, the RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov website was accessed by an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour,” Secretary of State Laurel Lee said in a statement.  “We will work with our state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure this was not a deliberate act against the voting process.”

That amount of traffic is nearly five times the voter registration website's normal amount of traffic all year. About 213,000 Florida residents so far have registered online in 2020, according to Politico

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said there are no signs of a cyberattack causing the outage. 

“Yesterday, Florida's voter registration site was unavailable for portions of the evening due to a high volume of traffic. At this point, there is no indication of malicious activity causing the outage,” an agency spokesperson said. “We will continue to monitor the situation and support Florida and other states in protecting the 2020 election.”

Cloudflare's CEO Matthew Prince said Monday night there were no indications of a cyberattack against Florida's voter registration website.   

As of Aug. 31, Florida had 14.1 million registered voters in the state, according to public records. About 32% of those newly registered voters came from the online portal. That compares with 8.5% of voters who registered online in 2019 and 17% in 2018. 

In September, the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned that cyberattacks on election infrastructure can affect access to voting information but wouldn't prevent a voter from casting a ballot. 

Political activist groups in Florida are suing the state to extend the deadline beyond the seven hours, for an additional two days. 


The lawsuit argued that Florida's election officials should have anticipated a spike in traffic on the voter registration deadline date because it experienced similar outages in 2018 and during the August primary. 

Before the outage, groups like the Florida Immigrant Coalition were registering hundreds of new voters every hour on Monday, the lawsuit said. 

“Florida is aware that there is increased traffic on book closing days, but the State has not taken steps to ensure that the site has the necessary capacity to accommodate the increased demand,” according to the lawsuit. 

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