November 04, 2008, 1:46 PM — A Web site set up to monitor voting problems in the 2008 U.S. presidential election suffered some technical difficulties of its own Tuesday.
Technical staff working on the OurVoteLive.org site were forced to remove some of the site's search features Tuesday morning, after the site was overwhelmed with Web traffic.
The site started getting hammered at around 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time, and by 9:30 a.m. staff had been forced to cut off public access to the group's database as they struggled to keep the Web site accessible and fix load-balancing problems, according to Matt Zimmerman, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which runs the site. "We're having a lot of traffic right now," he said.
The EFF runs the OurVoteLive.org site on behalf of Election Protection, a voting watchdog group that operates a voter-assistance telephone hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE. OurVoteLive.org was set up, in part, to give the public access to the data being compiled by the Election Protection hotline and to be a clearinghouse for reports of voting problems.
Election Protection workers have their own interface to the system, which was unaffected by the Web site's problem, Zimmerman said.
And the Election Protection systems set up to handle reports from voters were unaffected by the glitch, so voters were able to call in their reports without difficulty, Zimmerman said. However, anyone wanting to get a peek at the data and track voting issues on their own may have been frustrated, as the site was frequently unresponsive in the morning.
Zimmerman expected the load-balancing issues to be fixed by around 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time, and said that the database should be available to the public again around that time.
He couldn't say how much Web traffic OurVoteLive.org had received Tuesday, but the voters had telephoned in an average of 1,000 reports to Election Protection per day in early voting. On Monday that number spiked to 17,000, and by midmorning Tuesday, Pacific Time, the group had already received 23,000 reports.
OurVoteLive.org's problems reflect the intense nationwide interest in the election, which some observers say could have the highest turnout in 100 years. Initial reports on Election Day point to long lines and some voting machine failures in the battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.
"I think record turnout is record turnout and I'm thrilled that we're able to keep all these reports going," Zimmerman said. "Hopefully we'll be able to let the public get some of these details shortly."