116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate seemed somewhat exasperated by the question. No, he said. Voter tabulators are not connected to the internet, which would make them vulnerable to hacking and manipulation.
He laid out the facts:
- Iowans vote on paper ballots in all elections and those ballots are preserved to ensure accurate results
- Vote tabulators are not connected to the internet or to each other
- Every vote tabulator is stored securely when not in use and undergoes a logic accuracy test in which the public is invited to attend and watch
- Sample ballots are tested on the machine to ensure the tabulators are working correctly and recording votes properly
- Postelection audits are conducted in all 99 Iowa counties to ensure the hand-count and tabulator totals match
- In the 2020 elections, the postelection audits matched tabulator results in all 99 counties
Pate, a Republican, and the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office have been trying to tamp down voting misinformation and disinformation, while members of his own party are pushing conspiracy theories including those running for office in Linn and Johnson counties.
Pate’s office has been producing statements, videos and other information, including a dedicated “myth vs. fact” website, that pushes back on lies and distorted facts about elections in Iowa.
“We work very hard to give people the facts,” Pate said. “(Iowa) has been ranked among the top three states in the country for election administration. But, at the end of the day, we have given them both the integrity and the components they need to be confident that (Iowa’s election security) is on the up and up.”
He added: “If people lose confidence in our election system and our results, we have lost. We have lost our republic. And, if we lose our republic, you just gave the Russians — you just gave the Chinese — a victory without firing a single bullet.”
Local candidates embrace conspiracies
Pate’s comments came while standing next to a table of campaign literature for Republican candidates running for office in Linn County.
Among them is Republican newcomer Anne Fairchild, who is running against Democratic community organizer Sami Scheetz for the Iowa House District 78 seat, which largely encompasses southeast Cedar Rapids.
Fairchild was nominated to run for the seat in a special convention of Republicans in July. Her platform includes a push to ban the use of voting machines and ballot tabulators, and eliminating same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting.
Fairchild, in an interview in early October with The Gazette, falsely claimed vote tabulators in the state are connected to the internet, making them vulnerable to hacking and manipulation.
She asserted hand-counted results are more secure and should be implemented — another myth Pate’s office has rebutted.
“Hand-counting 1.7 million ballots for the results of one election would take several weeks and would be much more prone to human error and potential fraud than vote tabulators that are certified, tested and audited before and after the election to ensure accuracy,” the Iowa Secretary of State’s office posted on Twitter.
Regardless, Fairchild insisted that the voting process in the Unites States is flawed, and that she does not believe the country “has had a free or fair election for decades, to be really honest.”
Fairchild is not alone in making the claim.
She was among at least four Republican state legislative candidates on hand for a July 27 “Election Integrity Summit” in Independence with Douglas Frank, according to video posted by the liberal political news site Iowa Starting Line.
Others candidates on hand, according to the video, included Brad Sherman, Edward Bernie Hayes and state Rep. Sandy Salmon, R-Janesville.
The summit was organized by a group called Iowa Canvassing, which on its website bills itself as a “grassroots group of volunteers keeping Iowa voter rolls clean for fair and trusted elections.”
Frank, a former math teacher from Ohio who travels the country speaking to groups, claims to have discovered algorithms used to rig the 2020 election and that voting rolls had been hacked.
Frank has said FBI agents seized his phone in September as part of a federal probe into a Colorado clerk who is under indictment for allegations of tampering with election voting equipment last year, in what prosecutors say was a “deceptive scheme” to breach voting system technology used across the country, according to the Associated Press.
Fairchild, on her campaign website, claims Frank analyzed Iowa voter rolls and data published by the Iowa Secretary of State's office that showed “voter rolls are no longer behaving randomly county by county.”
Pate has refuted the claims.
Iowa conducts voter list maintenance on a constant basis and recent changes to state law “and partnerships help us ensure the cleanest voter rolls possible,” according to his office.
“None of these self-proclaimed experts have provided any actual evidence of any hacking of any election system across the State of Iowa,” Pate posted on Twitter. “We’ve asked for them to turn over evidence to law enforcement, and they’ve refused.”
Sherman, of Williamsburg, is chair for the Iowa County Republicans and a pastor who founded Informed Choices, an organization that attempts to dissuade women from seeking abortions. He is running against Marengo Democrat Elle Wyant, an LGBTQ activist and transgender woman who works in air cargo sales at UPS Airlines, for the open House District 91 seat, which covers parts of Johnson County and all of Iowa County.
Sherman, on his campaign website, falsely claims the 2020 election “was the result of massive fraud and cheating.”
More than 60 court challenges and dozens of state elections officials have investigated and found no measurable voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
Sherman, however, asserts on his campaign website that “courts used lame excuses and refused to even look at the evidence” — a view shared by Fairchild.
“If the 2022 midterm election is to be anywhere close to honest, we must clean up the broken election system,” Sherman states on his website.
Hayes, of Cedar Rapids, is running against Democratic state Rep. Liz Bennett for the Senate District 39 seat, which covers portions of Cedar Rapids as well as southern Linn County.
On his website, Hayes posts an open letter responding to an NPR article regarding “The Big Lie” of the 2020 election results.
In the letter, Hayes points to Frank’s websites, prominent 2020 election denier and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell’s Cyber Symposium in Sioux Falls, S.D., in August 2021 — which Rep. Salmon attended — and allegations from the documentary “2,000 Mules” directed by conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza as evidence to substantiate claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
D’Souza’s film and a book by the same name alleges a vast conspiracy between unnamed left-wing nonprofit groups and paid ballot "mules" to stuff vote-by-mail dropboxes and steal the 2020 election. Law enforcement officials and fact-checkers have thoroughly discredited the film's allegations, and the filmmakers have declined to make any key evidence for their central claims public, as NPR reported.
Pate criticized for not disavowing election deniers
Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, the Democratic challenger running against Pate in the 2022 campaign to be Iowa’s statewide elections official, has criticized Pate for not disavowing those who have repeated the false and widely debunked claim that the 2020 presidential election results were fraudulent.
Pate was among a small group attending an Oct. 11 “victory rally” in Cedar Rapids headlined by Harriet Hageman, supported by former President Donald Trump, who defeated Wyoming U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney in a Republican primary.
Hageman, a lawyer, has publicly said the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” against Trump, as Trump and his allies have falsely claimed.
Pate told The Gazette he attended the rally on behalf of the Republican Party of Iowa, “not Harriet Hageman.”
“And, to some extent, I also went there to answer questions about elections” and “to give them facts on what we do in Iowa,” Pate said. “I’ll ask people continually, ‘show me where that fraud is with evidence and facts.’ And I will prosecute it to the fullest extent of the law. I will put them away, if it’s the last thing I do.”
Pate said he’s not publicly chastising Republican candidates and officials in the state who have alleged voter fraud so as to avoid giving their false claims publicity, focusing instead on providing “hard facts” to counter the myths.
“If I start bringing more attention to them, what does that do? It just lends more credibility to their view, and I’m not going to help them,” Pate said. “I’m going to stay tuned in on the myths and the facts, and hope it works that way. We’ll keep at it.”
Comments: (319) 398-8499; firstname.lastname@example.org