Guest Columnist

Protecting election integrity

“I Voted” buttons lay in a bowl at the Coralville Community Center voting site on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
“I Voted” buttons lay in a bowl at the Coralville Community Center voting site on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Protecting the integrity of Iowa’s elections is the No. 1 priority for my office. We work every day to ensure clean and fair elections across the state and to protect the system from those who would like to undermine it.

We also are dedicated to encouraging every eligible Iowan to register to vote and participate in our elections.

Voter participation and election integrity are not mutually exclusive, and they should not be partisan issues. They go together.

Iowa already is one of the top states in the nation for voter registration and voter participation. We are very fortunate to be the first state in the nation in the presidential nominating process. I believe first-in-the-nation in voting demands first-in-the-nation security. My staff and I are working hard to ensure that is the case.

Election security is a race without a finish line. It requires constant vigilance and a holistic approach. There is not one silver bullet that will solve every problem or potential issue.

Cybersecurity also requires a team effort. That is why we are working with all 99 counties, as well as state and federal entities, and the private sector. We need to build a human firewall that is just as robust as our technological ones.

Make no mistake: Bad actors inside and outside the United States want to disrupt our elections. That includes some in the Russian government. Foes are trying to cause havoc in U.S. elections in two ways. One is through attempted cyberattacks. The other is through propaganda. Both can be damaging.

Using propaganda, they want you to doubt the results of U.S. elections to sow discord among the American people. The best way to combat the propaganda is by making sure you are prepared, and making your voice heard by voting.

There is no evidence of any unauthorized intrusions into Iowa’s elections systems, but we have enhanced our security to ensure the system remains protected.

Full-time monitoring of the voter registration database is conducted by my staff, the state of Iowa, our private vendor and federal agencies.

Working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Iowa Office of the Chief Information Officer, we are deploying resources to all 99 counties to provide extra protection to their systems.

The No. 1 way we protect the integrity of the vote in Iowa is through paper ballots. All Iowa elections are conducted on paper ballots to ensure the integrity of the vote.

Additionally, we are implementing postelection audits for the first time following the November general election.

I also am hiring additional staff, creating unprecedented partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, requiring more robust cybersecurity training and login authentication for the counties, and much more.

We will continue to diligently work to ensure Iowans know that when they cast a vote, their vote will not be tampered with, and will not be offset by a fraudulent vote.

Your vote will count. That is my pledge to every Iowa voter.

• Paul Pate is Iowa secretary of state.

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