Judge questions state on voter registration meltdown

A federal judge on Thursday hammered lawyers for Florida elections officials over a meltdown of the state’s online voter-registration system in the hours leading up to a Monday deadline, suggesting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration did not take adequate steps to address the problems that prevented thousands of people from accessing the website.

Secretary of State Laurel Lee extended the registration deadline until 7 p.m. Tuesday, but a number of groups, including Dream Defenders and New Florida Majority, quickly filed a lawsuit asking Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to give Floridians more time to sign for next month’s presidential election.

During a hearing Thursday, Walker estimated that, even with Tuesday’s hours-long extension, far fewer Floridians applied to vote on the online system than should have, when compared to registrations in the run-up to the deadline in 2018.

“The difference would be approximately 21,722 voters,” Walker said. “That is fewer voters than one would expect, based on the numbers from 2018.”

Mohammad Jazil, a lawyer for Lee, acknowledged that repeated system crashes leading up to Monday’s 11:59 p.m. deadline to register was problematic.

“No one wants to get this right more than we do. Our website

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