Voting Rights Organizations Celebrate Legal Victory Extending Virginia Voter Registration Deadline Through October 15Judge Rules Virginia Must Remedy Harm Done to Voters by Wednesday’s Voting System Failure
ALEXANDRIA, Va.– This morning, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that Virginia must extend the Commonwealth’s voter registration deadline to 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, October 15 to remedy the harm caused to voters yesterday when the state’s voting systems went down on what was set to be the final day of voter registration.
The ruling was reached in response to a lawsuit filed yesterday by Advancement Project National Office, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Hogan Lovells on behalf of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table, New Virginia Majority and the League of Women Voters of Virginia. The groups released the following statements on the ruling:
“The decision to extend the registration deadline was the right thing in 2016, and it’s the right one now. It’s unfortunate that an accident caused a system wide failure, but Virginia voters should not have to bear the burden and lose their franchise due to a technology error through no fault of their own, said Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of New Virginia Majority. “Virginians are excited to vote in this election as evidenced by the high turnout during the last several weeks of early voting. We encourage every eligible Virginian to check their registration status and register to vote.”
“This year has been tough for everybody in so many ways. The portal being unavailable on the last day for people to register to vote was another hurdle,” said Deb Wake, president of the League of Women Voters of Virginia. “Extending voter registration to compensate for those who did not get a chance to use the portal is just a matter of fairness.”
“We applaud the court’s decision to right this wrong and extend Virginia’s voter registration deadline,” said Irene Shin, executive director of the Virginia Civic Engagement Table. “But beyond this ruling alone, we hope this decision is an indicator of the durability of our democracy, that all eligible Virginians have a right to vote and to help shape our future. We will do everything in our power to continue protecting that right.”
“This is a victory for the people of Virginia. We are pleased the court recognized that extending the registration deadline and undertaking a campaign to educate the public about this change was the only way to preserve Virginians’ voting rights,” said Jorge Vasquez, power and democracy director of Advancement Project National Office. “Mistakes and mishaps happen—but our fundamental voting rights should not hang in the balance. This should serve as a wake-up call for election officials and policymakers not only in Virginia but nationwide. Our leaders must act proactively to secure the right to vote. We will continue to vigorously advocate for every person’s right to have their voice heard.”
“Voting is a right, not a privilege, and everyone who is eligible must have the chance to cast their ballot during the 2020 election season,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This extension is critical to ensuring that no eligible voter across Virginia is locked out and penalized as a result of the state’s failure. This underscores the need for states to put in place backstops to address 11th hour issues and disruptions in our electoral process.”
“We are grateful that the court recognized the serious issues and important rights at stake when the Department of Elections website went down yesterday on the last day of registration. This order granting additional time for voter registration will help to ensure that every eligible voter in Virginia has the opportunity to participate in this historic election,” said Tom Connally, Partner at Hogan Lovells, which represents the New Virginia Majority Education Fund, Virginia Civic Engagement Table, and the League of Women Voters of Virginia.