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Iowa officials promote election integrity and voter safety ahead of Election Day

 Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate discusses election security measures on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.
Katarina Sostaric
IPR News
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate discusses election security measures on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.

Top election, law enforcement, and cybersecurity officials said Thursday they are prepared to protect the integrity of Iowa’s election system and the safety of Iowa voters as they go to the polls.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says state, local and federal agencies, as well as the military, are watching for any problems they may need to address next week.

“I can’t emphasize enough, the integrity of the vote and the safety of voters are my top priorities,” Pate said. “Go out there, make your voice heard, and be a voter.”

He said law enforcement will address any attempts to impede voting.

Pate also urged Iowans to avoid falling for misinformation and disinformation about voting and election results.

“It’s so important people believe in the results of that election,” Pate said. “Come Election Day, when we put those tallies up, we need them to believe in it. They can’t have a doubt. Because if they do, our republic has fallen.”

He said Iowans should look to local and state election officials for correct information about voting and the election process.

Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said law enforcement is monitoring for physical and digital threats. He said he received reports in Iowa of voting-related phone scams, especially in Mahaska County.

Please be mindful of scam artists claiming that you can register your ballot or vote online or over the phone,” Bayens said. “These fraudsters are attempting to either steal your personal information in order to gain access to your identity, or trick you into believing you have already voted.”

Bayens said law enforcement officials can work to identify the source of the telephone number, but he said current technology can make that very difficult.

“And so we continue to kind of chase those breadcrumbs,” Bayens said. “And we will continue to do so until we’ve exhausted all of our remedies.”

He said it appears the scam calls came from outside the state of Iowa.

Election integrity measures

Pate said Iowans vote on paper ballots. He said county election officials check each vote-counting machine for accuracybefore the election, and the machines are not connected to the internet. Post-election audits require bipartisan teams in every county to hand-count paper ballots in one precinct to make sure the hand count matches the vote-counting machine results.

“Our post-election audits consistently match the tabulator totals perfectly, 100 percent,” Pate said.

This year, Pate is requiring post-election audits of two statewide races, instead of the usual one. He said the races that will be audited have been selected, and he will tell the public which races will be audited the day after Election Day.

Several agencies are also involved in monitoring for cybersecurity threats. They include the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and the Iowa National Guard.

“There is zero evidence of any unauthorized intrusions into Iowa’s election system,” Pate said.

Early voting is underway through Nov. 7, and Election Day is Nov. 8.

Copyright 2022 Iowa Public Radio. To see more, visit Iowa Public Radio.

Katarina Sostaric is an Iowa City based reporter covering Eastern Iowa for Iowa Public Radio.