Crews doing roadwork on Route 10 in Chesterfield cut a Verizon cable causing a network outage for several state agencies on Tuesday. One of those affected agencies includes the Virginia Department of Elections, making it impossible for Virginians to register to vote on the final day before the deadline.
The spliced cable is specifically impacting data circuits and virtual private network (VPN) connectivity for multiple Commonwealth agencies according to officials.
“Technicians learned that a Verizon fiber had been inadvertently struck as part of activities related to a Chesterfield County roadside utilities project, located off of Route 10 in Chester, Virginia,” said VITA, the company that provides cybersecurity services to the state of Virginia. “Technicians have been on site all morning to work to repair the cut as expeditiously as possible.”
The cut took place on a cable that services on the Commonwealth’s 10 GB circuit. The cable was installed recently to assist the network in dealing with the increased virtual use during COVID-19. A spokesperson for the Governor’s administration says they are expecting a temporary repair in place by 4 p.m. as Verizon continues to work to repair the cable.
Several elected leaders have called for an extension of the registration deadline. “The shutdown of the Virginia Department of Elections portal will disenfranchise Virginians across the Commonwealth unless there is an extension of the voter registration deadline,” said former Governor Terry McAuliffe. “We have made great progress in Virginia to make voting easier in our Commonwealth, we must continue in that vein by remedying this situation at this critical time.”
Governor Northam said in a press conference on Tuesday that his office is exploring all options for extending the deadline. Northam noted, however, that he does not appear to have the power to move the deadline – only the courts can.
The Department of Elections announced at 3:26 p.m. that the citizen portal is now working again. “Thank you everyone for your patience! The citizen portal is back up, you can go to http://elections.virginia.gov/voterinfo to register to vote, update information or check your registration status.”
The Governor said he does support a court-ordered extension. Rita Davis, legal counsel to the Governor stated during Tuesday’s press conference that protocols prevent the Governor from asking the courts to extend the deadline himself. It must be a plaintiff from outside of the administration. Lawyers Committee, the group that successfully sued to extend the deadline in 2016, has already indicated that they will be filing a lawsuit over Tuesday’s events.
We will update you when we receive more details.
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