At least 18 state election websites experienced disruptions on Election Day, preventing voters from using the sites to locate polling places and ballot information.
Arapahoe County, Colorado; Dallas and Denton counties in Texas; the Georgia secretary of state’s office; and Contra Costa, Shasta, and Ventura counties in California were among those affected. The Contra Costa County site was unavailable for five hours, and other jurisdictions experienced longer outages. A representative of SOE Software, which manages these voter portals, said the crashes were caused by high traffic.
When the polling place lookup tool in Dallas county became unavailable, the website pointed voters to www.gettothepolls.com, which is populated with official data collected from election officials across the country. More than 200,000 users turned to that site to find their information throughout Election Day.
Because the public depends on the Internet for official information about elections, it is critically important for election officials to provide backup tools that can deliver such information in case overwhelming traffic disrupts their sites.
During a 2013 New Jersey special election, the polling place lookup tool on the secretary of state’s website went down, and the state decided to embed the Voting Information Tool on its site, reducing stress on its other elections-related pages. States that direct users to an external polling place lookup tool can reduce traffic on their servers and improve the accessibility of their data.
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