CEDAR RAPIDS — Republican candidate for Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate has released his plan to encourage voter participation, strengthen election integrity with verifiable voter identification and embrace technology to make voter registration easier.
Pate, a former state senator who served as secretary of state from 1995-99, pointed out that during that time Iowa has a record number of voters and he oversaw outreach programs to encourage voter registration and election participation.
In a nutshell, the plan is to make it “easy to vote … hard to cheat,” Pate said.
Pate¸ a small-business owner in Cedar Rapids where he served as mayor from 2002-06, faces Democrat Brad Anderson in the race to succeed GOP Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who did not seek re-election.
Anderson was encouraged to hear that Pate has a plan for strengthening election integrity, but said the proposal would cost too much.
“For more than a year I have proposed fiscally responsible, nonpartisan ideas to make Iowa number one in the nation in voter turnout while strengthening the integrity of our elections through expansion of electronic poll books throughout Iowa,” Anderson said. “It’s nice to see that Mr. Pate now has a plan and agrees with some of my ideas.”
Pate’s voter participation and election integrity plan is based on his experience, Pate said, as well as conversations with secretaries of state and Iowa county auditors who oversee elections. He followed that with a bipartisan round-table summit in Des Moines to discuss election-related issues.
“Like a majority of Iowans, I believe we need a verifiable voter identification tool to be used when voters go to the polls to cast a ballot,” Pate said.
His plan calls for using Iowa driver’s licenses that contain a photo ID and bar codes that includes information on residency, citizenship and voter eligibility. Pate said 93 percent of Iowans registered to vote have driver’s license. He will seek funding to provide the other 7 percent with non-driver ID Cards.
Pate also wants to offer online voter registration. Twenty states offer it now, four have passed legislation to create online registration and three state offer limited online voter registration.
“I will work with the Iowa Legislature and support passage of online voter registration that will be secure, prevent fraud and provide long-term cost savings as well as modernize our voting system,” Pate said.
He also called for participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Cross Check that helps states maintain accurate and current voter registration rolls.
“This program helps ensure voters are correctly registered at one location,” Pate explained.
He also would explore being part of the Electronic Registration Information Center organization.
Pate’s plan also includes enhancing technology such as electronic verification for absentee ballots and eliminating absentee ballot couriers.
“I believe no one should be touching your absentee ballot except you, an authorized election official or a postal worker,” Pate said.
However, Anderson called it disappointing that Pate’s proposals, such as the signature verification of absentee ballots, require a massive increase in taxpayer spending at a time when our local election officials struggle to find the funding to simply update their voting machines.”
“Iowa has a proud history of clean and fair elections and the credit really goes to our bipartisan poll workers and county auditors across the state who have worked within tight budgets to prevent election misconduct while ensuring eligible voters have access to the polls,” Anderson said. “I sincerely hope Mr. Pate’s plan is followed up with a plan on how we pay for this dramatic increase in spending.”