Iowa officials urge voters to trust in the state’s election security

By: - November 3, 2022 1:59 pm

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, center, joins representatives of state and federal law enforcement and security agencies to discuss election security Nov. 3, 2022, at the state’s emergency operations center. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate urged voters Thursday to avoid being duped by misinformation, disinformation and scams they may encounter on or before Election Day.

“My office and your local election officials are the best sources for reliable election information. Do not fall for misinformation or disinformation,” he said.

Pate joined a half-dozen officials from state and federal law enforcement, the Iowa National Guard and cybersecurity agencies at the state’s emergency operations center in Johnston to emphasize that Iowa elections are secure.

He pointed to the fact that Iowa uses paper ballots and requires voter ID at polling places and for absentee ballots. Vote tabulators are not connected to the Internet, “so they can’t be hacked.” Audits are conducted before and after elections to ensure the accuracy of vote-counting, and Pate has ordered extra post-election audits to reassure voters of election integrity.

Normally, bipartisan teams in each county conduct a hand-count of all ballots from a designated statewide race in one randomly selected precinct, to ensure the count matches the one reported by the electronic tabulators. Those audits consistently match the tabulator totals, Pate said.

This election, each county will also hand-count ballots from a second statewide race, which will be announced the morning after the election. “That’s another layer of protection,” he said.

The news conference was held hours before former President Donald Trump was scheduled to rally voters in Sioux City. Trump never conceded the 2020 presidential election and he and his supporters have worked nationwide to cast doubts on election integrity and security.

“Well, anytime someone talks about elections and questions the integrity, it makes our job challenging,” Pate said, when asked about the need to counter disinformation from Trump.

He emphasized that poll workers are bipartisan and “your neighbors” or people from the community, and that voters should not be afraid to go cast their ballot.

“Because of what people are seeing on the news and reports from other states, it’s something I’d like to address: Voters, we’ve got your back,” Pate said. “You will be able to cast your vote safely. And if anyone tries to impede that process in any way, our friends in law enforcement will deal with it. We have these guys on speed dial.”

Iowa has not seen actual threats directed at poll workers or voters that other states have experienced – but there have been scams and false reports, Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said.

“Historically, false information has centered around alleged changes to polling place locations, hours of operation, or the alleged existence of voter intimidation, with the express design to spread fear and distrust,” Bayens said.

Iowa has had one reported incident in Mahaska County in September, when a voter received a call from an out-of-state number from someone falsely claiming the Iowan could vote over the phone instead of returning an absentee ballot. Bayens said sometimes scam artists will try to collect a voter’s personal information through a fraudulent offer of voter registration or voting by phone.

Pate encouraged voters to report any misinformation or disinformation to his office:  [email protected] or (888) 767-8683.

Voters can find their polling place, track their absentee ballot, verify their voter registration and get other voting information at Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8.

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Kathie Obradovich
Kathie Obradovich

Editor Kathie Obradovich has been covering Iowa government and politics for more than 30 years, most recently as political columnist and opinion editor for the Des Moines Register. She previously covered the Iowa Statehouse for 10 years for newspapers in Davenport, Waterloo, Sioux City, Mason City and Muscatine.