116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said voters should be on the lookout for election misinformation after an Iowa voter reportedly received a phone call with incorrect voting instructions.
Pate’s office was told last week that a Mahaska County voter received a call from an out-of-state number. The caller told him he did not need to return his absentee ballot to his county auditor’s office but could just register his vote over the phone.
Voting over the phone is not possible, and as the voter had not requested an absentee ballot, he refused and reported the incident.
The Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the call. Pate asked Iowans who have received similar calls to contact his office at (515) 281-0145 or email@example.com.
“That is a clear case of election disinformation, where someone is purposefully trying to mislead Iowa voters,” Pate said in a news release. “We have a great record of clean, fair elections in Iowa and election officials across the state are pushing back on this nonsense.”
Iowa voters must request an absentee ballot and then return it by mail or in person to their county auditor’s office. Voters also can cast their ballots in person on Election Day. They cannot vote by phone.
The Iowa misinformation call comes as election officials nationwide face growing misinformation and heightened distrust in election systems, following disputes over the results of the 2020 election when former President Donald Trump claimed voter fraud kept him from a second term.
The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office expanded its efforts to assure voters that elections in Iowa are fair and accurate ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm election, urging voters with questions to talk to the secretary of state’s office or their county auditors.
False claims that Iowans can vote by phone is just one piece of misinformation that election officials are contesting.
In August, Iowa Canvassing, a group which claimed the state faces widespread voter fraud, encouraged Iowans to challenge voter registrations in their counties. Some election skeptics believe that dead or inaccurately registered voters have participated in recent elections and challenged registrations in an effort to take these voters off the rolls.
Iowa regularly conducts voter list maintenance, Pate said, and measures like Iowa’s Voter ID law prevent these types of incidents.
Officials also conduct post-election audits to ensure results are correct.
Pate called for people with questions to find answers on the Secretary of State’s election security website, which has been updated to answer questions on voter registrations and absentee voting procedures.
“Iowa is one of the top three states in the nation for election administration,” Pate said, “and we’re going to keep it that way by defending our process against grifters and people who want to sow doubt in our system.”
This story first appeared in the Iowa Capital Dispatch.