Guest Columnist

Secretary of state: Thank you, Iowans, for voting

A voter checks in with a poll worker at the Hiawatha Community Center in Hiawatha, Iowa, on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Poll
A voter checks in with a poll worker at the Hiawatha Community Center in Hiawatha, Iowa, on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Poll workers arrive early to setup the polling booths, voting machine, and other all space in preparation for voting in the primary election. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Iowans are amazing. The level of civic engagement among our citizens is unrivaled. We proved that once again when voters turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots in the June primary election. Despite an ongoing pandemic and civil unrest across the state, Iowans were determined to make their voices heard the best way possible: by voting.

More than 520,000 votes were cast in the June primary, shattering the existing record of 449,490, set in 1994. Despite unprecedented obstacles, it was a smooth and secure election. The credit goes to Iowa voters, poll workers and county auditors. I am so proud of everyone who participated and the people behind the scenes in all 99 counties that made it happen.

This election was a terrific example of counties, state agencies and the federal government working together to ensure Iowans could vote safely. Congress and President Donald Trump made funds available through the Cares Act that allowed us to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and other resources to the counties. Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the Iowa National Guard delivered masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer so Iowans could vote safely at the polls.

County auditors exuded grace while under extreme pressure and worked to find creative solutions for unprecedented problems. Poll workers ushered voters through the process on Election Day while minimizing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

This summer marks the centennial anniversary of women gaining the long overdue right to vote with the ratification passage of the 19th Amendment. More than anyone else, Iowan Carrie Chapman Catt deserves credit for its passage. The record turnout in this primary election was great tribute to her legacy.

Although Election Day is over, our work is not complete. Every county will conduct postelection audits in randomly selected precincts to help ensure the accuracy of the vote. That is one of many protections we put in place to protect Iowa’s elections. We believe in making it easy to vote, but hard to cheat.

Thank you to everyone involved for pulling off a record-breaking election during a state health emergency.

Paul Pate is Iowa’s secretary of state.

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