A federal judge heard arguments on Thursday morning about extending Florida’s voter registration deadline again after it had already been extended, following issues with the official state website that occurred earlier this week.
The day the site experienced the issue was also the last day residents could register to vote for the Nov. 3 election.
Voting rights groups sued and took the case to court, claiming Secretary of State Laurel Lee’s extension to 7 p.m on Tuesday wasn’t adequate enough to offset the damage caused by the website crash.
Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker grilled lawyers for the state and estimated that even with the extension, far fewer Floridians applied to vote on the online system than compared to registrations in the lead-up to the 2018 midterms, according to Fox 13.
“No one wants to get this right more than we do. Our website fell short of the standards that we have set for ourselves. We tried to remedy the situation,” Mohammad Jazil, a lawyer for Lee, told Walker.
Plaintiffs are asking that Walker extend the voting-registration deadline for two days, but he did not immediately issue a decision. One is expected later today, however.
FLORIDA VOTER REGISTRATION WEBSITE EXPERIENCED OUTAGE HOURS BEFORE DEADLINE
The defendants, on the other hand, argued the plaintiff’s proposal would harm the state “far worse than it would benefit the plaintiffs.”
Walker reportedly asked if the issue was so large in scope as to warrant judicial intervention.
Jazil highlighted the fact that two individual plaintiffs in the lawsuit who claimed they were unable to use the website were already registered voters,” Fox 13 reported.
“We had a deadline. It was a generally applicable, widely known deadline. We had a failure of one mechanism to meet that deadline for a portion of one day on the last day of registration,” he said.
Walker replied, “Are you seriously taking the position that if it’s shut down for hours and 50 [thousand] or 60 thousand people don’t get to register, that’s a minor thing?”
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The judge also asked why the plaintiffs are asking Walker to extend the voting-registration deadline for two more days, as opposed to just one specific block of time.
“Why would you keep it open for two days? Wouldn’t you give everybody two days heads-up and then be from 7 p.m. to midnight two days hence?”
Stuart Naifeh, who represents the plaintiffs, claimed voting organizations need time to staff up and reach out to potential voters.