DeSantis administration ordered to move quickly on voter lawsuit

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Voting booth. | Tony Dejak/AP Photo

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker on Wednesday gave Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Secretary of State Laurel Lee until the end of the day to respond to a lawsuit that seeks to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline after the online registration portal crashed hours before the Oct. 5 cutoff.

Walker ordered the state to respond to the complaint by 7 p.m. Wednesday. He scheduled a hearing in the case for 8 a.m. Thursday.

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Walker rejected a request for a temporary restraining order late Tuesday. But during a hearing early Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, he told the state he wanted detailed information on how many people were using the registration website before it crashed, and how long it takes to add someone to the voter rolls.

Background: Florida’s registration portal was hit with a huge volume of traffic on Monday, causing the site to either crash completely or respond slowly as people attempted to sign up to vote. In response, Lee moved the voter registration deadline from 12 a.m. Tuesday to 7 p.m. Tuesday. The state will accept any mailed registrations postmarked Tuesday, she said.

The seven voting rights and left-leaning groups behind the lawsuit said the extension was insufficient and are seeking to extend the deadline by at least two more days.

Worth noting: Lee said the state added servers and took other steps in anticipation of a last-minute rush of applicants before the Oct. 5 deadline. An initial review by law enforcement showed no evidence of outside interference.

The portal drew heavy traffic again on Tuesday but functioned without problems, Lee told local election supervisors during a training exercise Wednesday.

What’s next: Walker will rule on a request for a preliminary injunction.

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