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Florida Congress Members Call on DeSantis to Further Extend Voter Registration Deadline

Members of Florida's Congressional delegation called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to further extend a voter registration deadline to midnight Wednesday after heavy traffic crashed the state's online enrollment system Monday, potentially preventing thousands of would-be voters from signing up to cast ballots in next month's presidential election.

After rampant reports of a breakdown on the state's registration system spread throughout the day Monday, DeSantis responded to those criticisms by allowing several more hours of registration to occur on Tuesday. However, it's likely many voters were unaware of the last-minute, online extension, or could make quick accommodations to register in person on such short notice.

Therefore, an additional day of registration is needed, the federal lawmakers from Florida wrote to DeSantis. Every Florida Democrat in Congress signed the letter requesting the extension. That list included Frederica Wilson (FL-24), Lois Frankel (FL-21), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Val Demings (FL-10), Al Lawson (FL-05), Reps.: Alcee Hastings, (FL-20), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Darren Soto (FL-09), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Donna Shalala (FL-27).

Read the entire letter below:

October 6, 2020

The Honorable Laurel Lee, Secretary of State
Florida Department of State
R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399

The Honorable Ron DeSantis
Governor of Florida
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor DeSantis and Secretary Lee,

We write to respectfully request that you use your emergency authority to extend Florida's voter registration deadline until 11:59 p.m. on October 7, 2020, in order to accommodate individuals unable to register on Monday due to technical problems with the online registration system. The brief deadline extension that you announced earlier today, on October 6, 2020, is welcome but inadequate: it does not provide enough time to widely publicize the newly available on-line voting sign-up period, nor does it allow eligible voters to plan accordingly if in-person registration is their only option.

As you are aware, beginning Monday afternoon, many Floridians who attempted to register to vote online were unable to do so because the website crashed under the weight of heavy traffic. This technological roadblock potentially disenfranchised voters, and must be remedied by a meaningful deadline extension. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage our state, more than ever, Floridians have come to rely on the online voter registration system as a safe and convenient way to ensure their voices are heard at the ballot box. Those that logged on to the website on Monday, within the legal deadline for voter registration, should not be silenced because of this breakdown. Nor should those who seek to vote in November be penalized for failing to become aware of an altruistic, though hastily-crafted remedy consisting of just several added hours of registration availability.

Without a robust, well-publicized extension remedy, this situation has the superficial appearance of being another example of the voter suppression tactics that Florida has sadly come to be synonomous with in recent years. An independent review of this failure could eliminate that perception. This Florida online voter registration system has experienced technical problems in previous election cycles and operational challenges should have been expected. Additionally, if this technical collapse was caused by an outside entity, voters should know that too. Therefore, we also request that an outside third-party conduct an investigation into how these recurring problems occurred, and recommend ways to avoid it happening in the future.

No eligible voter should be sidelined from participating in this critical election. That is why it is imperative that your office extend the voter registration deadline until 11:59 p.m. on October 7, 2020, and allow all Florida voters the opportunity to have their voices heard.