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When Sarah Aguiar-Wallis moved from California to Chesterfield County a few months ago, she thought she had been registered to vote when she changed her driver's license at the DMV. She was told she'd get something in the mail, but it never came. When she confirmed that her registration didn't go through, she, along with many others, scrambled Monday to register at the last minute.

The 29-year-old speech pathologist, currently staying at home to care for her young daughter, began trying to register online at 3 p.m. She kept seeing the same message: "File not found." She kept trying from multiple devices and multiple locations, but when the midnight deadline arrived, nothing had changed.

"I even set alarms on my phone to wake up because I knew I had until 11:59. But every time I tried I got the same result," Aguiar-Wallis said. "This is a huge election. To not be able to vote or have a say in my future or my daughter's future - not because I chose to but simply because I'm being restricted and my rights are being infringed on - that's scary."

Aguiar-Wallis and other would-voters who were unable to register by Monday's deadline due to crashes in the state's online voter registration system appear to be out of luck, despite multiple civil rights groups calling for the state to remedy the situation.

Election officials said the online system was down Monday due to "unprecedented activity," with more than 21,000 registrations successfully submitted in a single day. Much of the online traffic came from voting promotions on Facebook and Google, which state officials said took them by surprise. It's not clear how many people may have been unable to access the system.

In a letter sent to state officials Tuesday, the D.C.-based nonprofit Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law asked for a three-day deadline extension given the "extraordinary circumstances," saying "the right of eligible Virginians to vote should not be victim to a technological failure that is no fault of their own." The group urged state officials to act by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"We're very concerned about the breakdown," Kristen Clarke, the organization's president and executive director, said in an interview.

The ACLU of Virginia noted that state law makes accommodations for people standing in line registration closes, and argued that similar accommodations should be made for those who tried to register online. The ACLU said the state is legally required to have functional registration systems in place.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office said the governor has limited power to order an extension because the deadline is set in state law.

McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said an extension would require action by the General Assembly.

"Unfortunately, the registration deadline is set by the code and we processed as many as we could," Coy said.

McAuliffe has spent much of the year trying to make it easier to vote for Virginia felons who have served their time.

On Monday, Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés sent an email to voter registrars across the state saying his agency was in "triage mode" to get through the election and will pursue long-term fixes afterward.

"We are working right now to assess what happened and identify what additional resources can be brought online before the election to assist in resolving system performance issues," Cortés said in an email Tuesday. He said officials "understand the frustration" voters experienced due to the website problems, but noted that the system worked for "more than 21,000 voters."

At a hearing last week, General Assembly members and city and county registrars raised concerns about the spotty performance of VERIS, the computer system used to register voters and process absentee ballots. Cortés was asked several times to consider adding extra server capacity to improve the system's speed and reliability. During the hearing, Del. Timothy D. Hugo, R-Fairfax called on McAuliffe to replace Cortés, a gubernatorial appointee. McAuliffe's office said it had no plans to do so.

“We have every confidence in Virginia’s local registrars, but we are concerned that Governor McAuliffe’s Department of Elections has barely recognized let alone responded to the registrars' concerns about the technical systems needed to administer the elections," House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, said Tuesday in a prepared statement. "The administration needs to take immediate corrective action to ensure that local registrars have the necessary technical and support resources for the November election."

"We'll look at it and if there are additional resources that need to be made available, we'll make them available," Coy said.

Howell spokesman Matt Moran said the legislature has not considered calling a special session on an emergency fix.

"Not only would that create procedural and logistical nightmares for local registrars, but it would also set a problematic precedent," Moran said in an email.

At a House of Delegates budget meeting Monday morning, a state IT official was asked about the voter system's performance issues. Eric Link, Deputy Chief Information Officer, said VERIS is "not an ideal fit" within the state's IT infrastructure. He too pointed to Facebook's voter registration push as contributing the problem.

"The system isn't really designed to work with that sort of a surge," Link said.

Clarke said states know full well to expect spikes in last-minute voter registrations.

"To try and point the finger at someone else or at another third-party that's working to help the state register people to vote seems very disingenuous," Clarke said.

The registrar in Fairfax County, Virginia's most populous locality, said Monday was a "perfect storm" for local elections officials trying to process registrations and oversee absentee voting.

"It was pretty much a lockout," said Fairfax Registrar Cameron Sasnett. "We didn't see a complete and absolute system failure, but it was essentially close to it."

As the system slowdown worsened, Sasnett said transactions that normally take a second or less began taking five minutes or more. He said it took his office 14 minutes to look up the status of an in-person absentee voter, meaning that voter had to stand in the office for 14 minutes before getting a ballot.

Sonya Morris, 39, was supposed to go the Fairfax voter office when she tried to register in person Monday. As a recent transplant from New England, she went to the Alexandria office because it was closest on her GPS. When Alexandria officials told Morris she was at the wrong office, they suggested she could save the hassle by registering online, Morris said. She tried from noon to midnight, but won't be able to vote.

"It kept circling around and redirecting me," Morris said. "They have to give us another extension. It was a glitch. It was ridiculous."

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