Florida’s voter registration website crashed on Monday, giving users error messages and causing delays, after an “unprecedented” number of people tried to register before the state’s midnight deadline.
Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee, the state’s top elections official, who was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said on Tuesday that she had briefed the governor on the “challenges we encountered last night.”
“We’re exploring all options to ensure that all eligible registrants have the ability to register to vote and will work with our state and federal law-enforcement partners to ensure this was not a deliberate act against the voting process,” Ms. Lee said in a statement.
She first acknowledged slowdowns with the website on Monday evening. “Due to high volume, for about 15 minutes, some users experienced delays while trying to register,” Ms. Lee wrote on Twitter. “We have increased capacity.”
On Monday night, as the technical problems continued, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Campaign Legal Center sent a letter demanding that the deadline be extended until midnight on Tuesday.
“Otherwise, we may be forced to consider other legal remedies,” the groups wrote.
Florida has faced similar problems with its voter registration system before. Monday’s issues led Democrats to accuse the state, which also has a Republican-controlled Legislature, of voter suppression.
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Broward County, blamed the “utter incompetence” of Mr. DeSantis, whose administration faced a crisis this year with the collapse of its online unemployment benefits system amid the pandemic.
“This particular blunder intimates a continuing pattern of voter suppression that the governor has become notorious for,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said. “The governor must immediately extend the registration deadline to make up for all the voters he’s disenfranchised.”