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Secretary of State Paul Pate Responds to Primary Election Day Issues

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- After the dust settled on Iowa’s primary races, there were two issues found during Tuesday night's election.

One came from a group of texts sent out on Tuesday morning, and the other involved incorrect results slowing down the voting system.

The text messages had been sent to some Iowans reminding them to vote, but listed the wrong polling place. Secretary of State Paul Pate says they originated from Abby Finkenauer's campaign, although he says it seems to have been an accident.

“It appears as the vendor they hired used the wrong lists. They did not use our voter list because they were actually calling people who weren't in her congressional district,” said Pate.

The Finkenauer campaign released a statement,  reading:

"As part of our efforts to engage voters and increase participation in this election, our campaign sent out text messages on Monday reminding voters of election day and where they go to vote.  When we heard that there might have been a problem with texts from our campaign, we took immediate action.  We contacted our vendor to start investigating how this might have occurred and who may have been impacted. We then sent out a text asking voters to check their polling location with the Secretary of State's office and provided a link to the polling location finder.

"We then contacted the Secretary of State's office to let them know we were aware of an error and we're working with our vendor to investigate what might have gone wrong. Our understanding is that a few dozen people were sent inaccurate polling locations unintentionally.

"Our campaign never intended to misdirect any voter and we are deeply disturbed this happened. We apologize for the confusion this might have caused any voters.  We hope the text with the link to the Secretary of State's website averted anyone from going to the wrong polling location.  We are taking corrective steps to ensure this never happens again.  We sincerely apologize for this error."

Meanwhile, a little after 9 p.m., two counties submitted election results from 2016 that caused the system to come to a halt while Pate's office figured out what went wrong. Pate isn't currently naming the counties, but says his office is working with them to figure out how it happened.

“We don't know as of this moment. What my staff typically does is we do a complete review of the incidents that have happened in an election, we go back and work with the county to determine if it was a human error, if it was a training issue, whatever it might be, and we try to make sure it doesn't happen again, obviously,” he said.

Pate’s newly-elected challenger in the general election, Deidre DeJear, has already seized on the mishaps.

“We’ve seen, constantly, issues coming out of that office and not clarity on communication, and to me that is the overarching theme throughout the office,” she said.

Pate says all things considered, it was a good night.

“We have 99 counties and thousands of poll workers, so human error can slip in here and there, but when you look at the big picture it went very smooth, actually,” he said.

As polls closed at 9 p.m., Secretary Pate was speaking at Governor Reynolds’ rally in Des Moines. Pate says he was asked to speak by the Reynolds administration and was back at his office in approximately 15 minutes. Pate says results don't really start coming in until between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m.

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