State election official explains problems with website on election night


November 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

State officials say Election Day went smoothly, except for problems with the official website that displays election returns. Mary Mosiman, Deputy of Elections for the Iowa Secretary of State, says an internal server problem caused some disruptions at the site for about two hours.  “We did notice it right away, of course, so we went to Plan B and just put static information up there that was updated as we received it, but it wasn’t our original webpage design,” Mosiman said.

The problem popped up just after 9:00 p.m., when closed in Iowa. Many website users on social media reported receiving error messages instead of seeing election data. While the server problem was being corrected, elections staff posted PDF files of election results on the website. Mosiman said that was a big challenge because data had to be received from races around the state. “And then to be compiled and displayed in a user friendly manner…so, once we (identified) the server issues, we got that fixed as rapidly as possible and then it worked as we intended,” Mosiman said.

As part of the workaround, many counties had to email or fax results to the Iowa Secretary of State. Mosiman said the intended election night reporting system was back on-line shortly before 11:00 p.m. The system had undergone nearly two dozen successful tests in the days leading up to Tuesday, according to Mosiman.

(Radio Iowa)