TAMPA, Fla. — Just hours before the deadline to register to vote in Florida, the state's registration website began experiencing issues.
RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov is the official website Floridians can use to register to vote. Early Monday evening, multiple reports surfaced of users unable to access the site or experiencing a slow response loading the website.
The official cut off to register to vote in Florida was 11:59 p.m. Oct. 5.
The state did not respond to requests from 10 Tampa Bay for more information about what caused the issue.
Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee did confirm the problem online, tweeting the issues were linked to a "high volume" of people trying to register at once.
"OVR is online and working. Due to high volume, for about 15 minutes, some users experienced delays while trying to register," Lee tweeted. "We have increased capacity. You can register until midnight tonight. Thank you to those who immediately brought this to our attention."
However, some people reported still not being able to access the site several hours after Lee's tweet. Several 10 Tampa Bay's staffers experienced similar issues when trying to load the site.
Nikki Fried, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the only Democrat in the Florida Cabinet, tweeted:
It's not the first time the site has experienced issues.
Brad Ashwell, Florida state director with the voting rights group All Voting is Local, said his organization has been trying to work with the state since problems first arose in 2018, a year after the site was launched.
"We’ve been warning them this is likely to happen for several years, and they’ve had every opportunity to take precautions to prevent this from happening," Ashwell said.
“It’s unfortunate that voters are going to pay the price for lack of preparation by the state."
In addition to issues ahead of the registration deadline in 2018, Ashwell says they saw similar problems as recently as March ahead of the state's presidential preference primary.
Requests to work with the state, and even an offer to bring in an independent third-party to perform a "stress-test" on the system, have been ignored, Ashwell said.
“At this point, I think it’s reasonable to ask the governor to extend the deadline by at least 24 hours," he said.
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