Recently re-elected Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says the state’s voter registration data base and election system must be rebuilt.
“It remains vital that we see this project through to its completion,” Pate says.
The governor and legislators set aside a million dollars in the current budgeting year to start a five-year-long upgrade estimated to cost $7 million.
“The I-Voters system was designed to meet the needs of the elections in 2005 — before we had absentee voting as common as it is now, before we implemented Election Day registration and before online registration,” Pate says. “I-Voters was great when it was built, but it’s very expensive every time we try to add something new that the system wasn’t built for.”
For example, 17 year olds in Iowa soon will be able to register and vote in primary elections if they’ll turn 18 before the following general election. Pate says it will cost $150,000 to re-program the I-Voters system for that change.
Pate has used some federal grant money to upgrade the system to withstand hacking attempts from Russia and other “bad actors.”
“Cyber security is a new and ongoing and constantly evolving threat,” Pate says. “Although we diligently monitor and patch I-Voters, it is nearly at the end of its life. First-in-the-nation in voting demands first-in-the-nation security.”
The next big statewide test for the system will be the 2020 Iowa Caucuses when the Republican Party of Iowa and the Iowa Democratic Party use the I-Voters system to check voter registrations. Pate is asking legislators to double the appropriation for the I-Voters upgrade to more than $2 million in the next state budgeting year.