MN secretary of state: Staffer's 'lapse' led to partisan website link

The pollfinder website redirects users.
"I deeply regret this error,” Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said Tuesday after his office briefly redirected users seeking local polling information to a liberal political action committee website.
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Updated: 1:50 p.m.

The official online poll finder posted by the Minnesota secretary of state’s office on Tuesday morning briefly directed people to the website of a liberal political action committee.

Citizens trying to find their polling locations on Election Day were directed to act.boldprogressives.org, the website of the Washington, D.C.-based Progressive Change Campaign Committee. The site asked for a name, email address and ZIP code, information not required to determine a polling location.

Initially, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said he wasn’t aware of any redirection from his office’s site, although he acknowledged a glitch with one of the department’s computer servers that had slowed response time on the poll finder.

By early Tuesday afternoon, however, Simon conceded that in trying to respond to overwhelming demand, the department had linked briefly to boldprogressives.org, and that it should not have happened.

In trying to quickly restore the poll finder 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,” Simon said in a statement. “The moment this error was discovered, we corrected the link. The link in question was active for approximately 17 minutes.”

Simon’s office later redirected poll finder traffic to votinginformationproject.org, an affiliate of Democracy Works, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based nonpartisan, nonprofit working on “simplifying and modernizing the voting process.” By mid-day on Tuesday, the state’s poll finder page was back online.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I place the highest possible value on the nonpartisanship of this office, and I deeply regret this error,” Simon said in the statement. “Every Minnesota voter deserves a voting experience free of partisan influence, and I am committed to providing exactly that.”

Although brief, the redirect drew the ire of Republican lawmakers.

“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,” said state Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia.

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