Federal lawsuit filed in Virginia on voter registration system crash

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Story highlights

  • A civil rights group filed the suit late Tuesday
  • It claims that Virginia's voter registration website malfunctioned

(CNN)A civil rights group filed a lawsuit late Tuesday night in federal court after receiving reports that Virginia's online voter registration system crashed on the last day of the registration deadline.

The suit, filed by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, claims that Virginia's voter registration website malfunctioned repeatedly on October 16 and was down for most of the day on October 17, the last day to register to vote.
    "No voter should be penalized by errors made on the part of state officials," said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in a statement.
    Clarke said that the state "failed its citizens when its online registration system collapsed" and added that the lawsuit "seeks to ensure that all aspiring voters in Virginia are given a full and fair opportunity to register and vote this election cycle."
    Clarke said that the group received dozens of calls from Virginia voters who were unable to register. Before filing the lawsuit, she wrote to Edgardo Cortés, commissioner of Virginia Department of Elections, asking him to reopen and extend registration by at least 72 hours.
    Cortes responded that there is "no statutory provision in the Code of Virginia that allows for extending the voter registration deadline."
    Cortes noted, however, that "despite technical issues," 38,725 voters successfully submitted a voter registration through the online portal in the 48 hours leading up to the deadline.
    "We understand the frustration experienced by voters and we apologize the system was unable to handle the overwhelming demand from voters," he wrote.
    One plaintiff the Lawyers' Committee is representing is Kathy Kern, a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, who says in court papers that she tried, with her husband, to register "multiple times" on Sunday October 16 and Monday, October 17, using the online system but kept getting "file not found" message.
    She was ultimately unable to register.