“This has affected the Ministry’s civic portal, as well as local registration services in the British Commonwealth,” department spokeswoman Andrea Gaines said in a statement, without giving details on how or when the problem began.
An official in Governor Ralph Northm’s office (D) said the outage, which also affected the U.S. Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Health and other agencies, was likely to be temporary.
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“We will work with the administration to resolve this issue and ensure that all voters have access to #Vote,” Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (D) said on Twitter.
The suspension added another headache for local election officials processing tens of thousands of ballots during record early voting activity in Virginia.
Several local polling stations said residents were calling that they could not register to vote through the election ministry’s website, while others said they were forced to suspend early voting.
“It’s awful because we’re sitting here and we have no idea what’s going on,” said Judy Brown, secretary general of Loudon County. She said there was a lack of communication on the issue from the Department of Elections.
Brown said the outage forced her office to manually confirm the registration status of voters in Loudon County who are voting early Tuesday.
The problem also prevented Loudoun election officials from processing voter registration applications and printing labels needed to send out ballots, Brown said.
In Fairfax, county officials said the severed cable did not affect their early voting process, but hindered voter registration.
Officials in Virginia Beach said the problem prevented them from processing early ballots.
Christine Lewis, the city’s deputy registrar for the election, said voters who showed up to vote on Tuesday morning were offered the opportunity instead of filling out provisional ballots, which are usually counted last in the election. By 11:30 a.m., there were less than 20 participants, Lewis said.
“They want to wait for the system to show up and they want to vote on our machines,” Lewis said, adding that he did not know how long it would take.
“It affects everyone,” she said of the many websites that were down. “Just because one wire was cut.”
With high tensions over the election race between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as several races in Congress in Virginia, voters’ advocates have criticized the Northm administration for not doing more to prevent disruption, recalling a state computer system crash. happened on the eve of the 2016 elections.
Kristen Clark, chair of the Civil Rights Bar Association’s law, noted that her organization sued Virginia in 2016 for the problem that same year, forcing the state to extend the registration deadline.
“Virginia officials have failed the public again,” Clark said in a statement, predicting that “tens of thousands” of voters would not be able to vote as a result of Tuesday’s break. “It’s amazing that Virginia hasn’t learned from the failures of the not-so-distant past.”
Former Gov. Terry McAuliff (D), who was the state’s chief executive when the problem arose in 2016, agreed with the organization.
“Virginia courts must take immediate action to give Virginia citizens their legal opportunity to register to vote,” McAuliff, who recently formed a campaign committee for another governor’s campaign, said in a statement.