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Iowa Election Officials Push Back Against Misinformation

As officials attempt to assuage fears of election impropriety fueled by mis- and disinformation, the state’s Department of Public Safety is cracking down on phone-based scams to steal voters’ personal data.

The Iowa State Capitol building.
(TNS) — The state's top elections official says Iowans can rest assured their vote in the Nov. 8 election is safe and secure — urging voters to not be swayed by those who would cast doubt upon the election.

Republican Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate aimed to ease any concerns Iowa voters may have during a news conference Thursday at the State Emergency Operations Center at Iowa National Guard headquarters. Pate was joined by the directors of the state agencies that cover public safety and disaster and emergency management, as well as National Guard and federal cybersecurity officials.

"Voters, we've got your back," Pate said during the news conference. "You will be able to cast your vote safely, and if anyone tries to impede that process in any way, our friends in law enforcement will deal with them. We have these guys on speed dial."

Pate highlighted the operations conducted by his office that, he said, should convince Iowans their votes will be secure and counted accurately.

"There's a lot of misinformation and disinformation still floating around out there. So let me remind you of a few things," Pate said. He then noted:

  • Iowans vote on paper ballots.
  • His office conducts preelection audits on every vote-counting machine and postelection audits, both of which are open to the public.
  • Past postelection hand-count audits have yielded the exact same vote counts as the vote-counting machines.
  • The state is requiring two postelection hand-count audits this year, instead of the usual one.
  • The vote-counting machines are not connected to the Internet.
  • State laws require an identification while voting and when requesting and submitting an absentee ballot.

"Do not fall for misinformation or disinformation," Pate said. "I can't emphasize enough that the integrity of the vote and the safety of voters are my top priorities."

Asked if the added postelection hand-count audit is an attempt to head off any possible legal challenges to Iowa's election results, Pate said that was "not necessarily the reason."

"The reason was really more along the lines that there are people who have uneasy feelings about technology. They wanted more of a hands-on, and this was a way to be able to give them some of that assurance," Pate said.

Pate, who is facing an election challenge from Democratic Linn County Auditor Joel Miller, has been on a public information campaign in recent months with hopes of limiting doubt in Iowa's elections, even as some of his fellow Republicans, including candidates for the Iowa Legislature, continue to question election results.

For example, former President Donald Trump was scheduled to host a rally Thursday night in Sioux City, where he will campaign for Iowa Republicans like U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Kim Reynolds. The last time he was in Iowa, just more than a year ago, Trump spent roughly a half-hour continuing his widely refuted claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election that he lost to President Joe Biden.

"Any time someone talks about elections and questions the integrity, it makes our job challenging," Pate said.

Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said his agency will monitor and assess digital and physical threats in conjunction with local, state and federal law enforcement partners. He said his agency has already investigating phone scams in which Iowans are being told that they can vote over the phone or online, neither of which is true. Bayens said such scams typically are an effort to steal someone's personal information, or sabotage their attempt to vote.

"Iowans respect and actively exercise the right to vote, and they do so with civility and integrity. We take our responsibility to protect that right seriously," Bayens said. "And law enforcement will be aggressive in deterring any criminal effort to compromise our system of government."

Election Day is Nov. 8, and the polls will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Any Iowa resident who is not yet registered to vote can do so at the polls on Election Day.

©2022 The Gazette, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.