Iowa’s first-in-the-nation partnership with VoteShield helps protect election integrity

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s partnership with VoteShield sets a model for other states to monitor and protect their voter data. VoteShield is a secure web application that tracks changes to Iowa’s voter rolls and detects and flags anomalies. Iowa was the first state in the country to utilize the system.

Every state considers itself a target for foreign adversaries and bad actors whose possible goal is manipulating voter data. VoteShield is one of the numerous protections in place for Iowa’s voter registration system.

“VoteShield is an important component to help us ensure the integrity of Iowa’s voter data and elections,” Secretary Pate said. “The system is available for all 99 county auditors to use. Auditors know their counties best, so if an anomaly is detected, they are able to investigate it themselves.”

Iowa began utilizing VoteShield prior to the 2018 elections. An updated version was unveiled to Iowa county auditors in November 2019. The system is now available in 17 states.

“Our partnership with Secretary Pate is a model of how technologists and election administrators can work together to secure our elections and give the public greater confidence in their elections,” said Quinn Raymond, project lead at VoteShield.

“Protecting and ensuring the accuracy of Iowa’s voter database is important and VoteShield is one method the Secretary of State has chosen to help he and his staff, as well as all Commissioners of Elections in Iowa, monitor and protect this information,” shared Allamakee County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Denise Beyer. “In a smaller county such as Allamakee, even a small change in the voter registration totals or a change in status of several registered voters in a normal day could be worthy of investigating. Commissioners of Elections are extremely busy in the weeks prior to any election - preparing and testing equipment, in-office and vote-by-mail absentee voting, hiring and training poll workers, etc. - so help from VoteShield in monitoring the voter database takes one task off our very full plates.”

Secretary Pate’s office also partnered with voter registration expert Timothy Hagle, a professor at the University of Iowa, to analyze weekly reports generated by the system. The Secretary of State’s staff, Professor Hagle and VoteShield regularly discuss the data, trends and how to improve the reporting.

“Coupled with human expertise, VoteShield has provided valuable information and analytics to identify errors and to help ensure the integrity of Iowa’s voter database,” Professor Hagle said.

Election security is a critical, ongoing and non-partisan issue. The threats are constantly evolving and Secretary Pate’s approach to combating these threats continues to serve as a model for the rest of the country. The National Association of Secretaries of State honored Pate’s office with the NASS IDEAS Award in 2019 for his statewide election cybersecurity efforts.

“Secretary Pate understands that ensuring all eligible citizens the right to vote means navigating a complex environment, including threats from sophisticated malicious actors,” said Quinn Raymond from VoteShield. “We’re excited that our system has provided him an important tool to secure the voter rolls against those evolving threats.”