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Overloaded MN Secretary of State pollfinder redirects users to Dem-friendly websites

The issue sparked criticism from Republicans.
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The Minnesota Secretary of State's office has apologized after its Pollfinder tool started redirecting users to progressive websites when it couldn't handle the traffic from Minnesotans trying to find out where to vote on Super Tuesday.

There were several examples cited of the Pollfinder on the Secretary of State's site becoming overloaded, and advising users that because of "heavy demand, you may be directed to a trusted external site to find your polling place information."

Some users were then directed to Pollfinder tools hosted on sites including BoldProgressives.org, a PAC that has endorsed Elizabeth Warren and solicits donations, as well as Democracy Works, which the Pioneer Press notes describes itself as a "nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the status quo."

The issue has since been resolved, with Secretary of State Steve Simon saying there is no evidence of being hacked or voting systems being interfered with.

What caused the redirect?

"In an urgent attempt to restore service, a staff person diverged from our emergency plan and, in a serious lapse of judgment, linked to a partisan website that contained polling place information," explained Simon. "The moment this error was discovered, we corrected the link. The link in question was active for approximately 17 minutes.

Here's the Director of Public Affairs for the Minnesota House GOP showing how the SOS site has been redirecting some users.

The issue sparked criticism from Republican House members, among them Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia) who is the GOP lead on the House Subcommittee on Elections.

"Redirecting Minnesota voters to a partisan organization that endorses candidates and collects voter information shows an astonishing lack of judgment by the Secretary of State’s office," he said. 

"While I appreciate the preparations Secretary Simon has made to ensure voters can find their polling place in the event the state website is overloaded, this organization is an inappropriate source for our elections office to be utilizing."

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