The following statement may be attributed to ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga:
"The ACLU of Virginia is pleased that the federal court has ordered extension of the voter registration deadline to Friday at 11:59 p.m. in the case filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights seeking to protect the voting rights of Virginians denied the ability to register to vote as result of the statewide failure of the Department of Elections’ online registration system. Thousands of Virginians attempted to register to vote prior to the Oct. 17 deadline, but were shut out of the system through no fault of their own. The right to vote is fundamental in our democracy, and we are glad that the federal court agreed that Virginians should have an extended opportunity to register to vote and participate in this year’s presidential election.
"For the benefits of the extension to be fully realized, however, the Commonwealth must do two things immediately: 1) alert the public of the registration extension by all means available, including paid media if at all possible; and 2) take steps to ensure that come Friday night at 11:59 p.m. it can comply with the state law on final day registration that requires the Department to ensure that everyone “in line” online at that time has the opportunity to complete their registration or update their voter information.
"In addition, the Department of Elections, the governor and the legislature must come to terms with the fact that this was an avoidable crisis. The on-line registration system went “live” with General Assembly approval in July 2013. Nonetheless, in the ensuing three years, the Department has not received the funding for needed hardware and software upgrades nor has it developed the technical expertise needed to ensure that the online registration system is able to handle the predictable increase in usage in a presidential election year, particularly when many “voices” are pushing the availability of the online system as the easiest way to register and to check one’s registration status. The Commonwealth must do better, and the legislature needs to take action to ensure that the Department of Elections has the state funds it needs to operate, especially when in the not too far distant future when federal dollars are no longer available."