JOHNSTON – Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate gathered his ‘Election Security A Team’ for a news conference Thursday to reassure voters of the many steps taken to provide a secure election. Leaders of state and federal agencies were on hand at the Iowa National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters to provide information on what they’re doing to ensure a safe, smooth, and accurate voting process on November 8. The State of Iowa has received national awards for its election cybersecurity efforts and was recently named one of the top three states in the nation for election administration.
“I can’t emphasize this enough: The integrity of the vote and the safety of voters are my top priorities,” Secretary Pate said. “Pre- and post-election audits, paper ballots, and Voter ID are just a few of the many protections in place. Iowans, we’ve got your back, so go out there, make your voice heard, and be a voter.”
Secretary Pate also reassured Iowans they will be able to cast their votes safely and if anyone tries to impede that process in any way, election officials have local law enforcement on speed dial.
“Intelligence and law enforcement communities at all levels of government have been tasked with ensuring our elections are safe and secure,” Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said. “Iowans respect and actively exercise their right to vote and do so with civility and integrity. We take our responsibility to protect this right seriously and will be aggressive in deterring any criminal effort to compromise our system of government.”
The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will assist in monitoring Election Day activity.
“The State Emergency Operations Center is where we coordinate Iowa’s response to disasters and emergencies,” said John Benson, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. “We believe utilizing this facility to monitor election activity and share information on Election Day will give us the ability to quickly respond, if necessary, to threats to the integrity of the election process.”
The State of Iowa is also working with the federal government to ensure elections are protected at every level.
“Iowans should feel very confident when they go to the ballot box, that their vote will be counted as cast,” said Phil Kirk, regional director from the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “They should have every confidence in the integrity of Iowa’s elections. And they should have confidence in the state and local election officials and their partners in the federal government who’ve been working in solidarity to ensure the security and resilience of our elections.”
Secretary Pate also works with fellow state agencies to ensure top level cybersecurity protections.
“In support of this year’s election, the Department of Management, Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) will be monitoring cyberthreats jointly with the Iowa National Guard. The State of Iowa Security Operations Center will provide 24-hour-a-day cyberthreat monitoring and heightened support during this year’s elections,” said Shane Dwyer, Chief Information Security Officer, the Office of the Chief Information Officer.
The Iowa National Guard’s Joint Task Force Cyber has also been a valuable ally in the effort to protect Iowa’s elections.
“To assure the integrity of the State of Iowa’s electoral process, the Iowa National Guard has been directed to provide electoral security assistance to the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office for the midterm election cycle. We are proud to once again serve our state and community by defending our election cyberspace domain,” said Captain Brett Leighton, Iowa National Guard Joint Task Force Cyber, Team Lead.
Secretary Pate and other speakers also urged Iowans to be leery of election misinformation and disinformation. Instead, turn to trusted sources for election information, which are the Secretary of State and county election officials.
“And I’d like to make a request to every voter who goes to the polls on Election Day: Be nice to the poll workers and treat them with respect. They stepped up to provide a civic duty and are putting in long hours. It’s an important job and they’re doing it because they care about our elections,” Secretary Pate said.
Polls will be open across Iowa from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Tuesday for the November 8 general election. Voters should visit VoterReady.Iowa.gov or their county auditor’s website to find their polling place and other election-related information.