Pennsylvania IT Outage Blocks Voters From Requesting Ballots Online

2020 mail-in ballots sent through the U.S. Postal Service / Getty Images
October 5, 2020

An IT outage in Pennsylvania disrupted online voter registration and requests for mail-in voting ballots this weekend.

Equipment failure at a contracted data center interrupted election, voting, and other online services through the Pennsylvania State Department from Saturday evening through Monday morning. The problem comes just one month before November’s general election—and amid heated debate over the efficacy of mail-in voting.

The state department said in a press release on Sunday that voters could still print out their mail-in ballot requests or request their ballots over the phone. Counties continued to process applications previously received before the outage, and voting services were restored by 9:30 a.m. Monday. Other services through the state department, including state licensing, are still down as of Monday afternoon.

Mail-in ballot requests are piling up in Pennsylvania, a battleground state, largely due to health concerns during the coronavirus pandemic. In Lawrence County, ballot requests are up 400 percent. And Butler County election officials are processing 40,000 ballot applications.

While some mainstream media outlets continue to label problems with mail-in voting as a hoax, federal investigators are looking into another incident in Pennsylvania where nine ballots were found in a dumpster in Luzerne County—seven of which were cast for President Donald Trump. More than 3 million voters in the state are expected to vote by mail for the election on November 3.