Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis today extended the state voter registration deadline – after unexpected and inexplicable heavy traffic blocked the state’s online system and potentially blocked thousands of registrations to vote in next month’s presidential election.
DeSantis has extended the deadline, which expired yesterday, until 7pm today. In addition to online registration, DeSantis has ordered election, motor vehicle and tax collector offices to remain open until 7 p.m. local time for anyone wishing to register in person, writes The Associated Press.
Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who oversees the voting system, said the online registration system “was hit by an unprecedented 1.1 million requests per hour” during the closing hours of yesterday.
Lee said in a statement today that the state “will work with our state and federal law enforcement partners to ensure this was not a deliberate act against the voting process.”
The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency warned election officials nationwide last week that cyberattacks could disrupt their systems during the run-up to the election.
They particularly noted “distributed denial-of-service” attacks, which flood a computer system with requests, potentially clogging servers until the system becomes inaccessible to legitimate users.
Here’s the Guardian’s Sam Levine with an important link:
The potential for outside interference is a particularly sensitive issue in Florida, The AP adds, a key state of the battlefield in the November elections between Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.
The state has outstanding questions about Russian hacking during the elections four years ago.
Last year, state officials confirmed that at least two election-related servers Florida the counties were violated by Russian snoopers. No votes or records have been tampered with.
This isn’t the first major computer crash that has affected the state government this year. For weeks in the spring, tens of thousands of Floridians who lost your job due to the coronavirus pandemic it was not possible to apply for unemployment benefits due to repeated crashes by that overwhelmed computer system, delaying payments.
DeSantis replaced the director who oversaw that system, but blamed the problems on his predecessor, fellow Republican Rick Scott, who is now a United States Senator.
A civil rights group had threatened to sue if the governor did not extend the deadline.
In the meantime, watch Guardian Kenya journalist Evelyn’s excellent Florida film about the rights and views of black voters in this election here.