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Protective and Cyber Security Measures Ensure Iowa Elections are Safe and Secure
Paul D. Pate
Secretary of State
State Capitol
Des Moines, IA 50319
Iowa Secretary of State Seal WEBSITE:
Ashley Hunt
Communications Director

Protective and Cyber Security Measures Ensure Iowa Elections are Safe and Secure

By Secretary of State Paul Pate and Former U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chairman Matt Masterson

Voting is one of the most important duties a citizen can undertake. Protecting the integrity of the vote across Iowa is of the utmost importance, and the state’s holistic approach to election security is a critical component to that. Iowa is ranked in the Top 3 nationally for Election Administration, in huge part thanks to the state’s layered approach to protective and cyber security.

While each single layer of security is vital, the integration of each layer is crucial in ensuring security and integrity of Iowa’s elections.

In each of Iowa’s 99 counties, elections are conducted independently with ample safeguards in place. Partnerships between the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, federal security agencies, private sector companies, and local election officials allow for collaboration and innovation and further strengthen election security and the varied layers of protection required.

Protection goes beyond the days leading up to an election and those following. When not in use, voting equipment is stored in a facility accessible only to authorized election personnel. Before voting starts, each piece of voting equipment undergoes logic and accuracy testing, and they are secured with tamper-evident seals.

In every Iowa county, rigorous pre-testing of election equipment allows officials to attend to any challenges well before Iowans head to the polls. Every ballot tabulator is tested in view of the public ahead of the election. Sample ballots are tested on voting machines to ensure tabulators are working properly and recording votes correctly. Every tabulator produces a paper receipt of the vote totals that can be matched to the paper ballot totals to ensure accuracy.

Another layer of protection requires all 99 counties to conduct a hand count audit after every election. One randomly selected precinct in each county must conduct a hand count of votes, which is compared to the machine count to ensure its accuracy. Last election, post-election audits in all 99 counties verified the accuracy of the machine count.

Further protective and cyber security measures are instituted at all levels of an election. This includes an extensive chain of custody of records for ballots and all voting equipment. Election equipment and ballots are transported to and from polling places securely with tamper evident packaging, and each transfer is documented. Every person involved in transfers has taken an oath to uphold state election laws and protect the security of the election.

Threats to Iowa’s election security are always evolving, including cyber threats. Every election in our state uses paper ballots. While paper ballots cannot be hacked, bad actors continue to spread false or misleading information online and use cyberattacks to further sow doubt in our elections process. Firewall protection, intrusion detection, and 24/7 monitoring of websites and databases allow us to proactively stop bad actors from getting through.

We are proud of Iowa’s holistic approach to election protective and cyber security enacted by state and local election officials. We recognize that collaboration is key in protecting the integrity of the vote, and we’re constantly adapting processes and enhancing security measures to keep up with evolving threats. Each November, Iowans can head to the polls knowing that their vote is safe, secure, and importantly, heard.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is the Chief Commissioner of Election for the State of Iowa. Matt Masterson is the former Chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and a previous Election Security Official with the Department of Homeland Security.