Demand strains Va. voter system as registration deadline nears

WASHINGTON — Problems with a Virginia election system created long waits in the state’s largest county as residents lined up to register to vote on Monday — the last day to sign up and be able to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential race.

Fairfax County Registrar Cameron Sasnett said no one who attempted to register to vote was turned away. But waits at the North County Government Center in Reston midday took as long as an hour and were up to 45 minutes at the main Government Center in Fairfax.

Problems with the Virginia Department of Elections computer system, a central database that houses voter information, also slowed in-person absentee voting and effected the state’s citizen portal for those trying to register to vote online, he said.

Sasnett described the problem as a severe slowdown in the performance of the system, which is used by registrars throughout the state. He said the system was at its slowest in the middle of the day, likely due to high demand, and improved at the end of the business day.

Arlington County posted on Twitter that the high number of residents registering contributed to the slowdown and that it would take several days to process all of the applications.

Mailed registration forms had to be postmarked by 5 p.m. But voters can register through the state’s online portal at until 11:59 p.m.

State election officials said they were making adjustments to the online portal to ensure that Virginians could register to vote or update their registration by the deadline. However other online functions would be temporarily disabled.

A statement posted on the department’s Facebook page said the “registration system is experiencing an unprecedented activity level that has caused it to slow down and sometimes be completely unresponsive.”

WTOP’s Amanda Iacone contributed to this report.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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