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California voting line gave wrong registration deadline for upcoming November election

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POSTED October 16, 2012 7:21 p.m.

SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Already bombarded by conflicting campaign ads and ballot propositions, some Californians became even more confused when a message on the state's official voting hotline provided a wrong deadline for voter registration, an election official said Tuesday.

Some callers heard a message Monday saying, "Voter registration for the Nov. 6 election is now closed." In fact, voters have until Oct. 22 to register.

The problem was fixed by late Monday afternoon, Secretary of State spokeswoman Shannan Velayas said.

She said the system is getting 500 calls a day and rolls over to a backup line on the rare occasions when it hits capacity. The backup line was giving out the incorrect message, Velayas said.

The state's contractor, AT&T, said it gave incorrect instructions to the person administering the hotline.

"We helped get it corrected right away," AT&T spokesman John Britton said. "We're sorry for any inconvenience."

The mix-up may have discouraged some already overwhelmed voters, said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation.

"Elections are a very brief window of time when people pay attention to things like whether they're registered to vote," she said. "We have this fleeting opportunity to pull people into the process."

Californians can register to vote online for the first time this year. The new system attracted more than 400,000 users during its first three weeks. The voting hotline number is 1-800-345-VOTE.


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