October 05, 2020
An equipment failure at a Pennsylvania data center over the weekend disrupted the state's online voter services, but on Monday morning the issue had been resolved.
The data center is managed by Unisys, a state contractor handling multiple facets of Pennsylvania's information technology for voter services. The outage affected pavoterservices.pa.gov, the portal where the state's residents can go to register vote, apply for absentee and mail-in ballots, track mail-in ballots and find their polling places among other election-related services.
"We are working around the clock with our vendors to bring services back online as quickly as possible and will continue to do so until operations are fully restored," Secretary of Administration Michael Newsome said in a statement on Sunday, prior to the website being restored.
Many of the Department of State's election-related and professional licensing services were among the applications affected by the outage. On Monday morning, PaVoterServices and the links to the election and voter services on site's page were working again, state officials said.
The outage comes less than a month before the Nov. 3 election in which Pennsylvania figures to be a decisive battleground state in the presidential race. Mail-in ballots are a central piece of the state's strategy to ensure strong turnout during an election year thrown into uncertainty by the coronavirus pandemic.
"The outage is due to an issue with the contractor's equipment, and there is no evidence of malicious interference," Secretary Kathy Boockvar said on Sunday. "All data was backed up, as always. Commonwealth IT personnel are working with Unisys to restore service as soon as possible."
Officials used the situation as an opportunity to highlight alternative ways Pennsylvanians can register to vote. At all times, residents have the option to download and print paper voter registrations and mail ballot applications, as well as other election-related forms and applications. Those without access to a printer can call the department's toll-free voter hotline, (877) VOTESPA (877-868-3772) and request an application to be mailed to them.
Counties have the ability to process registrations and mail-in and absentee applications and ballots via alternative processes. They also can generate reports and export data for other continuing election processing.
The departments of Revenue, Human Services and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board also were affected by the outage. On Monday morning, Pennsylvania's online professional licensing services continued to be affected by the outage.