On the day of the U.S. midterm elections, the Contra Costa County Department of Elections website for was inaccessible starting at 7:20 a.m. local time.
And it wasn’t alone, the Bay Area News Group reported that 18 election websites run by Florida-based SOE Software across the country were down for most of the election day.
According to local news reports, Contra Costa County officials said the hosting of the website was contracted to SOE Software, which was also offline at the time. Election officials said SOE Software was working trying to fix the problem, and the sites were back online this week.
The main function of election websites is to provide information on where voters can find polling stations, but they also provide features such as Vote by Mail ballot registration.
Officials recommended that voters needing to find their polling station visit Get to the Polls, a website sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust and others.
It’s possible that the election websites were unprepared for the amount of traffic they would get on election day, but it’s also likely that a Distributed Denial of Service attack flooded SOE Software’s servers with requests, blocking legitimate traffic from reaching the websites it hosts.