Democrats in the legislature are questioning whether Iowa’s Republican secretary of state can correct computer issues that led to an Election Night crash of the state website with voting numbers. Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, is among those who raised the issue Thursday during a meeting with Secretary of State Matt Schultz.
“It is a national embarrassment,” Danielson told reporters after the meeting. “I left today with more questions than I got answers.”
Schultz said the problem was in the “cloud” — in other words, the multiple Microsoft computer servers joined together in a “cloud” to handle web traffic.
“There was a throttling of the system,” Schultz said. “…There were so many people coming in at once, the cloud actually thought it was being attacked and so it shut itself down to prevent the entire cloud that it was on from going down.”
Danielson said the “credibility” of Iowa’s Election returns was thrown into question by the computer glitch.
“I think it’s time for the secretary of state to call a time out, consult with our chief information officer,” Danielson said. “…He would give those of us who are allocating money to his budget some comfort that he’s getting somebody else to help him work through these issues.”
Schultz already hired an outside company to audit the system and he said they’ve pin-pointed the problem and the website functioned well during special elections in December and January. Schultz told reporters the state website for reporting election night data crashed when Democrat Michael Mauro was secretary of state, so this isn’t the first time it’s happened.
“At the end of the day, the people will judge me, but I think that the citizens of Iowa have confidence in our staff and in me,” Schultz said, “and we’ll continue to do the job.”
Schultz was elected in 2010 and faces reelection in 2014. He appeared Thursday before the legislative subcommittee that drafts the budget for his office.