State website overloaded on final day to register to vote

Posted on: 12:18 pm, October 9, 2012, by , updated on: 08:57pm, October 9, 2012

DENVER — Many Coloradans attempting to register to vote in the election that is now exactly four weeks away are having a hard time using the Secretary of State’s website, which is apparently overloaded ahead of Tuesday’s midnight registration deadline.

With hundreds, perhaps thousands of Coloradans receiving an error message, the website, govotecolorado.com, now includes an apology note atop the page and a link to a paper registration form that can be downloaded and filled out.

While Democrats don’t trust Secretary of State Scott Gessler and are worried about anything that appears to impede voter registration efforts, Gessler’s spokesman tells FOX31 Denver that the website and the servers backing it up are simply struggling to keep up with demand.

“We had 85,000 visits to the site [Monday]. That’s double the numbers from last week,” said Rich Coolidge, Gessler’s spokesman. “And it’s five times September’s average.”

This is the first presidential election where Colorado voters have been able to register to vote online, Coolidge pointed out.

“Back then, we’d just get runners from the county clerks offices dropping off stacks of registration forms, and then we’d have workers here entering the information in the system,” he continued.

“Now, we’re seeing a lot less paper. And there’s less margin for error. But, technically, with the demand we’re seeing, there are going to be some issues.”

Additional servers are being brought in to support the website and the increased demand.

But, Democrats aren’t satisfied with Gessler’s response.

“For months, Secretary of State Gessler has been focused on diversions and purging lawful voters from the rolls instead of doing his job to ensure Coloradans have the opportunity to vote,” said Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “Coloradans are potentially being disenfranchised in a historic election because has not handled the most basic duties of his office.

“Secretary of State Gessler needs to step forward and say what he is going to do to make sure every Coloradan has the opportunity to take part in this election.  Incompetence by elected officials is no justification for denying citizens their right to vote.”

Overall, there are now roughly 400,000 more Coloradans registered to vote than there were four years ago.

“We’ve seen a big spike,” Coolidge said.