Pennsylvania’s voter services website back online following outage

Voting stickers

Stickers are placed out for voters at a polling station on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Updated: Monday 9:15 a.m.

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Pennsylvania’s voter services website — where you can register to vote, find your polling place and apply for a mail-in ballot  — was back online as of Monday morning following an outage that lasted more than 24 hours.

The outage started around 5:30 p.m. Saturday and also affected services at the Liquor Control Board, Department of Revenue and Department of Human Services, according to a press release from the state Office of Administration Sunday.

Department of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren confirmed services were restored around 7 a.m. Monday.

Officials didn’t elaborate on the specific services affected at other agencies.

According to technicians, an equipment failure at a data center was to blame for the outage. They found no signs of foul play or loss of any data, state officials said.

State officials said Unisys, an IT company that manages the data center, had been working to fix the problem since Saturday.

Other options for voter services

The Department of State noted in a press release Sunday evening that in the event of issues with the website, Pennsylvania residents can still download and print election-related forms, including the paper voter registration and mail ballot applications. If you don’t have a printer, you can call the state’s voter hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA and request an application be mailed to you.

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said counties are still able to process voter registrations and mail-in ballot applications. Contact information for county election offices and information on new voting systems is still available on the website.

“The outage is due to an issue with the contractor’s equipment, and there is no evidence of malicious interference,” Secretary Boockvar said. “All data was backed up, as always.”

The deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania is Oct. 19 and the deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 27, but this latest hiccup in the voting process will likely be one more thing keeping voters in a critical swing state up at night.

The outage comes after a couple of tough weeks for election officials in the Commonwealth. First, officials said nine military ballots for President Donald Trump were mistakenly thrown out by a temporary worker in the Luzerne County elections office; then Trump falsely claimed election officials in Philadelphia incorrectly blocked his poll watchers at satellite election offices; and finally, a laptop and several encrypted USB devices were stolen from a storage warehouse in the city. Philadelphia elections officials say they have taken steps to be sure the integrity of the Nov. 3 general election will not be compromised as a result.

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