Visa Lottery Halted by Computer Glitch

The State Department announced Friday that a computer error had forced it to invalidate the results of this year's visa lottery.

Under the lottery program, up to 55,000 visas are awarded annually based on a random drawing from entries over a month-long period by people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. The results of this year's lottery were posted last week, but David Donahue, deputy assistant secretary of state for visa services, said in a video posted on the State Department's website that they were not valid because a computer glitch had resulted in a selection of names that was not random.

"Although we received large number of entries every day during the 30-day registration period, the computer programming error caused more than 90 percent of the selectees to come from the first two days of the registration period," Donahue said.

The State Department's official statement on the error said, "We have no evidence that this problem was caused by any intentional act. No unauthorized party accessed data related" to the visa program.

The department will conduct a new selection process based on all of the names originally submitted, and expects to post results on about July 15.

Here's Donahue's video message:

(Hat tip: Ed O'Keefe, Washington Post)