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Pate: Iowa offers a model for election security

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate talks with Adrian Evans' AP US Government class at Kennedy High School before they counted straw poll ballots in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate talks with Adrian Evans' AP US Government class at Kennedy High School before they counted straw poll ballots in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Election cybersecurity is a race without a finish line. There are new and constantly evolving threats out there every day from foreign governments, and from bad actors across the globe. We must remain vigilant in protecting our elections. I want you to know that here in Iowa, that is our number one priority.

During the National Association of Secretaries of State’s recent summer conference, some of my bipartisan colleagues mentioned they plan to follow the “Iowa model” for election cybersecurity. What is the Iowa model? We built partnerships between all 99 county election offices and I.T. professionals at the county and state levels to ensure statewide security. Sturdy technological and human firewalls are vital, and we make sure the counties have the resources and training they need to protect the sanctity of the vote.

I’m proud to report that all 99 counties are receiving at least one cyber-service from the state, and more than 90 are using three or more services. This includes 24/7 monitoring, intrusion detection and malware prevention.

Additionally, our state’s voter registration database, I-Voters, is in a secure, off-site facility with top level security. There are several layers of protections on the system, and a multitude of channels someone must go through to gain access.

You might have recently read that I-Voters will not be replaced before the 2020 elections. Replacing the system is a multiyear, multimillion-dollar project and remains on-schedule. It is not something that can or should be rushed into blindly. We owe it to the voters of Iowa to build the system responsibly with the future of elections and security in mind.

My office receives funding for this project in yearly installments, which will continue to come in over the next few years. In the meantime, we are ensuring the current system has all the necessary upgrades and protections in place.

Two additional protections Iowa has in place are paper ballots and postelection audits. A paper ballot cannot be hacked, and we implemented postelection audits in every county to ensure the vote counts match.

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This is a team effort, and I consider the thousands of poll workers, all 99 county auditors, and all our local, state and federal partners part of this team. We are dedicated to protecting your vote. Nothing is more important.

• Paul Pate is Iowa’s secretary of state.

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