Government

2 Democrats vie to face Secretary of State Paul Pate

Both candidates criticize law that curtailed time for early voting

Diedre DeJear
Diedre DeJear
/

Two Democrats are running for the party’s nomination for Iowa Secretary of State. The winner of the June 5 primary will face incumbent Republican Paul Pate. The Des Moines Bureau asked each of the candidates a series of questions. Some responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

DEIDRE DEJEAR

Residence: Des Moines

Age: 32

Family: husband Marvin

Professional and political experience: founder Caleo Enterprises, developer Financial Capability Network

Website: dejearforiowa.com

Q: What would be your No. 1 priority as Secretary of State, and what steps would you take to achieve it?

A: My No. 1 priority is increasing turnout in all of our elections, not just the big ones. Managing two school board races in Des Moines showed me how much easier it is to get people engaged in our small elections. Our smaller elections, however, don’t get much resources or attention and turnout is minimal statewide. Iowa prides itself on our first in the nation status, and in that same breath, we must be able to say we are just as active in the small, local elections.

Q: Democrats have been critical of the 2017 Voter Integrity Act. What would you do differently?

A: First, we must restore the early voting days cut in this law. Not only was Iowa first in the nation for presidential years, we were also first in the nation to cast ballots. Working men and women, college students, seniors and those in our disabilities community all lose out when we cut early voting. Second, it’s time to over educate voters on the new process. ... Third, I would work closely with auditors to determine what reforms are necessary. Auditors were overwhelmingly not supportive of the Voter ID law (yet) implementation of this law fell on their offices.

Q: What would you do to assure Iowans that voting in Iowa is safe from hacking and other threats to election security?

A: Restoring faith in our elections systems is critical. Voters need to trust that their vote will count and their information is secured. This means the Secretary of State’s office must work with Department of Homeland Security to stay up to date on current threats and new technology. This also means the Secretary of State’s office needs to be transparent to the public. I will appoint a director of election security to be the liaison with federal entities that are monitoring election threats.

JIM MOWRER

Residence: Des Moines

Age: 32

Family: wife Chelsey, two children

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Professional and political experience: intelligence analyst in Iowa National Guard, special assistant to undersecretary of U.S. Army, vice chair of Iowa Democratic Party

Website: jimforiowa.com

Q: What would be your No. 1 priority as Secretary of State, and what steps would you take to achieve it?

A: As Secretary of State, I will work with the Legislature and county election officials across the state to achieve these goals. We need to make sure that every eligible voter is able to participate in the electoral process and take steps to ensure that votes are counted accurately and that our election databases are secure. Our current Secretary of State has failed to take election security seriously and even failed to count nearly 6,000 votes in the 2016 presidential election — we need to implement steps to address these major issues and improve the basic functions of the office.

Q: Democrats have been critical of the 2017 Voter Integrity Act. What would you do differently?

A: The name of this legislation is misleading. Supporters know that dramatically decreasing absentee voting options does nothing to increase the integrity of elections in our state. I’ve traveled across Iowa talking with county auditors from both parties who have said that shortening the window for absentee voting will make it more difficult for Iowans to vote by mail. That’s unacceptable and completely unnecessary. This legislation ... also added barriers to voter registration, even making previous voter registration forms unacceptable and creating confusion about identification requirements at the polls.

Q: What would you do to assure Iowans that voting in Iowa is safe from hacking and other threats to election security?

A: Serving overseas and working in the Pentagon taught me about the threats our nation faces from hacking, whether from domestic or foreign sources. I’ll use this experience as Iowa Secretary of State to completely review information technology practices and make necessary updates to modernize and secure our election systems. Paul Pate repeatedly misled Iowans on attempts to access election information ahead of the 2016 election. I’ll also pledge to be transparent and accountable to the people of Iowa throughout this process.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.