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Iowa Secretary of State's office offers online election workshops

Julie Rach
Nebraska City News-Press

The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office is conducting a series of workshops through next week to help counties prepare for the 2020 elections. The Incident Response Plan seminars take county auditors and staff, IT administrators and emergency management coordinators through a variety of scenarios that could disrupt elections. The goal is to ensure all 99 counties are prepared for Nov. 3.

Election administrators prepare for the worst but hope for the best. Scenarios could include natural disasters, power outages and cyberattacks. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed election cybersecurity out of the daily news, it remains a concern for officials across the country.

“Working with federal, state and county agencies assures Iowans that they’re getting the best protection possible, the A-Team I call it,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul D. Pate said.

“When we work with the Iowa Department Homeland Security and Emergency Management and our other partners on the county level, we are giving them all the resources possible to assure them that the elections are being done with the most efficient process and safeguarding their vote," he added.

The virtual workshops are being conducted with the assistance of Iowa-based information security services firm Pratum.

Six workshops are scheduled and will run through Aug. 6.

The Secretary of State’s Office, state agencies and county officials also participated in a nationwide preparedness exercise on Tuesday that was organized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Cooperation between government agencies is crucial for protecting elections.

“One of our key missions is to support local emergency managers as they prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters of all kinds that may impact their communities. We are proud to partner with the Iowa Secretary of State because we want Iowans to be confident that whether they mail in a ballot or step in a voting booth, their vote is secure and counted in Iowa,” said Joyce Flinn, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, whose staff facilitated preparedness exercises in Iowa on Tuesday.

Threats to elections are constantly evolving, so ensuring Iowa is prepared ahead of time protects the integrity of the vote.

“Voters can be assured that we’re working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, all the time, because their vote is that important to us. Collectively all of us together can make sure Iowans know their vote will be counted,” Pate said..

Election Day in Iowa is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Absentee ballots will be available beginning Oct. 5, but Iowans can request an absentee ballot now. Visit VoterReady.Iowa.gov for more information.