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Judge Denies Request To Extend Florida's Voter Registration Deadline After Website Crash

A federal judge early Friday morning criticized Florida election officials while denying a motion that would have extended the state’s voter registration deadline.

Judge Mark Walker heard arguments in the case on Thursday and delivered his ruling after midnight.

Voting rights advocates sued for an extension, after the state's online registration crashed on Monday.

State officials say server problems caused an online registration system to crash, hours before the original deadline on Monday. They requested the deadline be extended for two days.

In his ruling, Walker criticized Secretary of State Laurel Lee for what he called her hasty decision to briefly extend the deadline by seven hours.

He says voters were not given enough time to ensure that they properly submitted their registrations.

“The Secretary’s ‘cure’ had at least one major flaw; namely, she did not notify the public until—at the earliest—after noon on the date of her new “book closing” deadline,” Walker wrote. “This left less than seven hours for potential voters to somehow become aware of the news and ensure that they properly submitted their voter registration applications, all while also participating in their normal workday, school, family, and caregiving responsibilities.”

He ended the ruling with a scathing comparison of running a voter registration website with moon exploration.

“In so ruling, this Court notes that every man who has stepped foot on the Moon launched from the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida,” Walker wrote. “Yet, Florida has failed to figure out how to run an election properly—a task simpler than rocket science.”

This is a developing story. Stay with WUSF for updates.

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Carl Lisciandrello is digital news editor of WUSF Public Media.