Voter registration website glitches problematic for local registrars

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Glitches in the online voter registration system have made a complicated election season that much harder for local registrars.

In the midst of historic volumes of voters in Williamsburg and James City registering this election season, local registrars have had to overcome outages of the online voter registration system and applicants re-registering multiple times.

Many Virginians were unable to register to vote due to “unprecedented web traffic” that prevented them from completing their online registrations, said Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a news release.

To compensate for the glitches in the commonwealth’s online “Citizen Portal,” a federal judge extended the Oct. 17 voter registration deadline to 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 21.

While the extension bought a little time for voters, some registrars remain concerned that the online registration system lacks functionality.

James City County General Registrar Dianna Moorman is one of them, who said the glitchy system created an increased workload on election officials.

“People log on Citizen Portal anytime, day or night, from the privacy of their home, which is great to have that feature, but there should have been something in place that stated your registration is up to date,” she said.

York County General Registrar Walt Latham said that his office also had sporadic outages of the voter registration system. He said that legislators should work to bring the state’s technology up to snuff instead of “doing yearly patches on the Code of Virginia.”

“The computer and technology issues are part of a larger puzzle. There probably should be a comprehensive review of elections in Virginia and determining what we need to make sure they are ready for the 21st Century,” Latham said in an email.

“I know that one locality had one person that submitted 53 applications for themselves in a matter of minutes. I know that here we had one voter that submitted her name at least five times,” Moorman added.

The Virginia Department of Elections did not respond to a comment request by the time of publication.