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Secretary of State cites ‘unfortunate error’ for online voter registration portal outage

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said Wednesday the state’s voter registration site being down Tuesday night for maintenance was an “unfortunate error,” and that he takes full responsibility for it.

“Last night or website experienced a short delay due to maintenance, an unfortunate error for which I take full responsibility,” Ardoin said in a statement.

The website was down from 8 p.m. to about 11:30 p.m. on the second day of National Voter Registration Week. It was back up and running as of 7 a.m. Wednesday.

“I am proud of our record of registering over 90% of all eligible Louisianians, and our office works hard to ensure every citizen who wants to register can do so. Just last week, we sent registration information to over 100,000 identified eligible but unregistered citizens,” Ardoin’s statement said.

Still, some are questioning the timing of the outage, including Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins.

“This isn’t scheduled maintenance. It is scheduled voter suppression on #NationalVoterRegistrationDay,” Perkins said in a tweet late Tuesday night.

Louisiana Democrats also chimed in Wednesday with allegations of voter suppression.

“As Democrats across the state are engaging voters for the coming election, Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has a pattern of attempting to suppress the vote,” the Louisiana Democrats said in a statement Wednesday, noting that the closure of the voter registration portal came during the largest national voter registration push of the year, just 43 days before the Nov. 3 election. “His plan to limit secure, expanded absentee voting was denied by a judge just days ago.”

Last week, a federal judge ordered Ardoin to reinstate coronavirus pandemic voting plans used for the summer elections rather than moving ahead with a more restrictive plan proposed and approved by the Legislature for elections in November and December. That plan would have modestly expanded early voting but still required most people to cast their ballots in person in the pandemic.

Under the court order, Louisiana voters are now able to request the same COVID-19 Ballot Application as was offered in the July and August elections for both the upcoming November and December elections and early voting has been expanded from seven days to ten, starting on October 16.

While the online voter registration portal is back up and running, Louisiana Democrats remain skeptical.

“Ardoin has demonstrated time and again that he only values and promotes the right to vote for some, not all. On a day when his office should encourage voter registration and participation in our democracy, he blocked it. This was gross incompetence at best and blatant voter suppression at worst. Either way, this failure is an embarrassment.”

The in-person and by-mail registration deadline in Louisiana is October 5, while the online registration deadline is October 13.

Louisiana is one of 40 states that offer online registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Texas and Arkansas do not currently offer it, but Oklahoma has passed legislation and is currently phasing in the implementation of their online registration. 

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