A federal judge on Thursday ordered Virginia to reopen its voter registration window and allow residents to continue to sign up through midnight Friday, after its online registration portal crashed earlier this week.
U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton’s order came in response to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday by the activist New Virginia Education Fund, which complained that the state’s online voter registration portal had worked erratically in the days leading up to the state’s initial Monday deadline to register.
The lawsuit argued that the problems risked illegally denying thousands of people the right to vote in the Nov. 8 election.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe this year restored the right to vote to thousands of ex-felons, a move seen as potentially tipping what had been a traditional Republican stronghold in Democrats’ favor.
“I am pleased that the court has agreed with the request to extend Virginia’s voter registration period after unprecedented web traffic prevented many people from completing their registrations online before the original deadline,” McAuliffe, a Democrat, said in a statement on Thursday. “The Commonwealth will fully comply with the court’s order and extend our registration process online, in person and through the mail.”
Shortly after the judge’s decision was handed down in an Alexandria courtroom, the state’s Department of Elections updated its Web site to show the new deadline.
Representatives of the New Virginia fund did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Recent polls show Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton leading Republican New York real estate developer Donald Trump in the state.
(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Bernadette Baum)