As Iowa’s commissioner of elections, I take the integrity of our elections and every voter’s personal data very seriously. You can be assured that the state’s elections systems are protected, and your personal information remains confidential and secure in Iowa’s voter registration database. I’m writing this because I want to emphatically encourage all registered voters to ignore any suggestion that you should cancel your voter registration.
Hidden in the media hype about supposed hacking into U.S. elections systems by Russia is the fact that there are only two known instances of unauthorized intrusions in 2016 and neither happened in Iowa. No one’s vote was changed or deleted in either instance.
I remain dedicated to protecting Iowa’s election integrity. My elections staff remains vigilant. We have safeguards, redundancies and constant monitoring in place to protect against unauthorized intrusions.
We utilize paper ballots in Iowa. The devices that scan and count your paper ballot are not connected to the Internet or to each other. Each ballot tabulator is tested, in public, by county auditors prior to elections to ensure they are working properly. The Election Modernization and Integrity Act passed by the Iowa Legislature this year allows us to conduct post-election audits, which will help us catch any discrepancies.
Although there are no known unauthorized intrusions into our system, the media hype may have been successful in eroding confidence in America’s elections. Americans have been told that our system was manipulated from the outside. This fear is misplaced. We cannot allow propaganda to hamper Americans’ ability to choose our representative form of government.
Finally, I need to address the request for information I received from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. If my office receives a request that complies with state law, the Iowa Code requires us to provide the requested information. That request must be treated like the hundreds of other list requests received every year and will not compromise personal information.
Here are some important points about voter list requests:
• Your social security and driver’s license numbers are confidential by law and never provided to any voter registration list requester.
• There is no record of the way you marked your ballot, so your personal voting choices are never shared with anyone. Participation in an election is part of the record, but how you voted is not.
• Voter registration records are publicly available in prescribed circumstances. This has been the case for many years. In Iowa, a list of registered voters is provided only to persons who make an official request and swear to use the information only for political or official purposes. The log of who requests voter registration lists is also public record.
• Most importantly, I urge all registered voters to remain registered and to participate in elections.
Voter integrity and voter participation are not mutually exclusive. I have to take a strong stand against any organization that promotes or publicizes unwarranted fear mongering regarding voter registration. Such shameful activity is the epitome of voter suppression.
The worst response you could have is to cancel your voter registration and to not exercise your right to vote. It has never been easier to register to vote in Iowa. Make your voice heard and be a voter.
Paul Pate is Iowa Secretary of State.
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