Federal judge weighs Florida’s voter registration deadline

Southeast

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — A federal judge is fast-tracking a lawsuit that could extend Florida’s voter registration deadline. This is not the first time the deadline has been extended.

Florida residents who tried to register to vote before Monday’s midnight deadline were faced with delays and error messages.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker wondered whether extending the deadline would be an undue burden on election officials across Florida, who are already under pressure to hold voting amid the coronavirus pandemic and the intense scrutiny that comes with the states’ status as a national battleground.

Walker said he would issue a ruling quickly, perhaps just hours after hearing arguments from lawyers representing Florida’s Secretary of State and voter advocacy groups who say thousands of Floridians could be disenfranchised when state elections servers failed after being overwhelmed by unprecedented traffic on Monday, the last day to register to vote.

After consulting with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Secretary of State Laurel Lee allowed additional registrations for seven hours on Tuesday. In that seven hour period, an estimated 40,000 people registered to vote.

On Wednesday, the state revealed that hackers were not to blame for Monday’s malfunction. The problem occurred because computer servers were wrongly configured to limit capacity on the site.

Voting rights groups immediately sued the state and requested a two-day extension.

Advocates believe the public could be disenfranchised due to the state’s lack of planning, but attorneys representing the state argue it may be too late to add to the voting rolls.

It is still unclear how many Florida residents were unable to register while the site was down. It is estimated there are more than 2 million potentially eligible unregistered voters in the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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