Articles about voting issues in Iowa.

Iowa: A Virtual Iowa Caucus Would Have Been A Hacking Nightmare | Maggie Koerth-Baker/FiveThirtyEight

When the Democratic National Committee put the kibosh on plans for virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada, they may have pissed off the people who saw the event as a chance to give more people the opportunity to vote. But at least the DNC made the cybersecurity community happy. “It was absolutely the right decision,” said Herb Lin, senior research scholar at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Lin and other experts praised the DNC for deciding the risks of a virtual caucus outweighed the benefits of making the time-consuming and byzantine caucus system more accessible. Yes, that has thrown state parties into a bit of chaos as they scramble to come up with new plans by a Sept. 13 deadline. But, Lin and others told me, there’s no getting around the fact that a virtual caucus would be massively hackable — easy to steal, and even easier to simply disrupt. If anything, they said, they wished more political leaders would take the same stance against such schemes, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Full Article: A Virtual Iowa Caucus Would Have Been A Hacking Nightmare | FiveThirtyEight.

Iowa: DNC recommends scrapping Iowa’s virtual caucus plan | Brianne Pfannenstiel and Barbara Rodriguez/Des Moines Register

The Democratic National Committee on Friday unraveled months of progress the Iowa Democratic Party had made toward making its caucuses more accessible and inclusive, throwing the process into turmoil. The DNC announced it would not recommend approval of plans by Iowa and Nevada to enact virtual caucuses, citing broad cybersecurity concerns. The rejection upends Iowa’s plans just five months before caucus night, adding another layer of uncertainty to what has always been a complicated, volunteer-driven exercise in organizing. And it calls into question the long-term viability of the Iowa caucus system as Democrats here debate whether expanding access outweighs the importance of being first. Iowa Democratic Party chairman Troy Price struck a conciliatory tone and reassured Iowa Democrats that their place leading off the presidential nominating process is secure this February. “Iowa will be a caucus, and Iowa will be first,” he said multiple times during an afternoon news conference at the party’s headquarters in Des Moines. But as the DNC actively encourages states to move away from caucuses and toward primaries, even some Iowans questioned whether it’s time to abandon Iowa’s closely guarded caucus system.

Full Article: Iowa caucuses: DNC recommends scrapping Iowa's virtual caucus plan.

Iowa: Fearing Hackers, D.N.C. Plans to Block Iowa’s ‘Virtual’ Caucuses | Reid J. Epstein/The New York Times

The Democratic National Committee is preparing to block Iowa Democrats’ plans to allow some caucusgoers to vote by phone next year, bowing to security concerns about the process being hacked, according to four people with knowledge of the decision. The committee’s announcement, expected to come by Friday afternoon in the form of a recommendation to the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, serves as a major setback to Democrats who have long hoped to expand the caucus-state electorate beyond those voters able to attend a winter-night gathering for several hours. The Iowa Democrats’ plan would have allowed voters not attending a traditional caucus to register their preference during one of six “virtual caucuses” over the phone. But D.N.C. security officials told the rules committee at a closed-door session in San Francisco last week that they had “no confidence” such a system could remain safe from hostile hackers. The D.N.C.’s leadership concluded that the technology that exists is not secure and poses too large a risk of interference from a foreign adversary, according to officials with knowledge of the deliberations. Several presidential campaigns expressed concern to top party officials that Iowa’s results could be compromised, people familiar with the discussions said Thursday.

Full Article: Fearing Hackers, D.N.C. Plans to Block Iowa’s ‘Virtual’ Caucuses - The New York Times.

Iowa: Secretary of State raises concerns of cyber threats to elections | Rod Boshart/The Courier

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate on Wednesday likened the ongoing struggle against forces trying to hack the state’s election network to a “war.” “It’s a war for public opinion, and it’s a war, if you will, for minds rather than a physical one,” Pate said in pointing to efforts by Russians, North Koreans, Chinese and others trying to disrupt the U.S. election process and weaken the American public’s trust. “Their manipulation of the social media, their manipulation of certain types of probes that they’re doing is to try to create doubt, to make Americans question their elections process,” Pate told reporters. “So, yes, I consider that a war. I consider it something we need to push back and not tolerate.” Pate raised concerns about challenges to Iowa’s election process during a breakfast meeting with members of the Westside Conservative Club. He also shared his worries that any snafu in the upcoming 2020 Democratic “virtual” caucuses could have a “devastating” impact and jeopardize Iowa’s starting position in the presidential selection process every four years.

Full Article: Pate raises concerns of cyber threats to elections | Political News |

Iowa: “Virtual Iowa Caucuses” Demand Cybersecurity Attention: 2020 Election Security Can’t Wait Till 2020 | Joshua Geltzer/Just Security

The past week featured stark reminders of the importance of election security as the 2020 presidential election swiftly approaches. First, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified to the House Intelligence Committee that the Russian government was interfering with American democracy “as we sit here.” Next, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a detailed report on election security, reciting the extensive malign cyber activity conducted by Moscow in the lead-up to America’s 2016 presidential election and concluding that “little has been done to prevent it from happening all over again.” Press coverage of both of these warnings has emphasized—understandably—the need to harden U.S. defenses against various forms of cyber interference that Russia—and now Iran, too—appear intent on carrying out in the 2020 election. While it’s true that 2020 election security is critical, it’s important to emphasize that protecting our elections can’t wait until 2020 is upon us. That’s because, if our foreign adversaries’ goal is (as the Senate Intelligence Committee report confirmed) to undermine American confidence in our own democracy, the opportunities to do so are already unfolding. Long before Election Day arrives, the release of internal campaign emails, the distortion of public polling data, the laundering to campaigns of money that originates from impermissible sources—all of this can contribute to advancing the objectives of Russia and other hostile foreign actors intent on undermining public confidence in American elections and, ultimately, our democracy.

Full Article: "Virtual Iowa Caucuses" Demand Cybersecurity Attention: 2020 Election Security Can’t Wait Till 2020 - Just Security.

Iowa: Press 1 for Harris. Press 2 for Biden …’Tele-voting’ comes to the presidential race | Alex Seitz-Wald/MBC

You can phone it in. For the first time, Democrats in Iowa and Nevada will be able to participate in their states’ crucial early presidential caucuses next year without actually having to show up. It’s a major change from election years past and one designed to make the Democratic caucuses more democratic and boost participation since not everyone has the time or ability to spend several hours of a specific evening attending an in-person caucus meeting. “This has been one of the challenges and criticisms that people have had of the Iowa caucuses since they were created,” Troy Price, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, told NBC News. “So we’ve always been looking for ways to address this.” Both Iowa and Nevada will now allow any Democrat who wants to to use a telephone to dial into a “virtual caucus,” where they’ll rank a handful of their choices for the presidency. Iowa will offer Democrats six chances to “tele-caucus” in the days leading up to its Feb. 3 first-in-the-nation caucus. “We wanted a process that would continue to allow the precincts to remain the central tenant of our caucuses, while allowing some people who might not otherwise be able to to participate,” Price said.

Full Article: Press 1 for Harris. Press 2 for Biden ...'Tele-voting' comes to the presidential race.

Iowa: Iowa will keep voter registration system for 2020 elections | Ryan J. Foley/Associated Press

Iowa’s 14-year-old voter registration system will live to see another presidential election. The Iowa Secretary of State’s office confirmed Thursday that a long-discussed plan to replace the I-Voters database will not be completed before the 2020 elections.  Spokesman Kevin Hall said the office remains in the information-gathering phase of the project, which was formally launched more than a year ago. He said the state plans to solicit information from potential vendors soon and to later move forward with a bidding process. “This is a big project and we owe it to the voters of Iowa to build it responsibly with the future of elections and security in mind,” he said. The project is expected to cost $7 million and the office doesn’t yet have all that funding, he added. Russian hackers tried to infiltrate Iowa’s elections system in 2016 but were not successful. Current and former state officials say they have confidence in the security of the I-Voters system and that they’ve taken steps to prevent intrusions, including two-factor authentication and cybersecurity training for users in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. Built in 2005 and launched the next year, the system has been upgraded numerous times and contains data on Iowa’s roughly 2 million registered voters.

Full Article: Iowa will keep voter registration system for 2020 elections.

Iowa: Democrats express concern about Iowa’s “virtual caucuses” | Eleanor Watson/CBS

Members of the Democratic National Committee expressed skepticism Friday morning about the Iowa state party’s ambitious plan to introduce “virtual caucuses” at the first contest of the presidential primary calendar next February. The discussion came during a meeting of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC), which sat down in Pittsburgh to go over and approve 22 states’ plans for choosing delegates to the Democratic National Convention, including Iowa’s. An RBC member from Iowa, Scott Brennan, gave a presentation outlining the key changes to the Iowa caucus for the 2020 cycle, with the biggest change being the implementation of virtual caucuses, which would allow Iowans to support candidates without ever leaving home. But the chief technology officer of the DNC, Nell Thomas, expressed concern that this new system might not work. “I hope you have a contingency plan,” Thomas said. Critics of the virtual caucuses proposal said they were worried about the capacity of the system, the security behind it, and how complex it will be for the Iowans who use it. “This is the future, but I don’t know if we’re there yet,” committeewoman Donna Brazile, a former DNC chair, said. Another committee member, Frank Leone, said the process sounded like it made voting more complicated than it needed to be.

Full Article: Democrats express concern about Iowa's "virtual caucuses" - CBS News.

Iowa: Democrats Propose `Virtual’ Caucuses for First Time in 2020 | Bloomberg

Democratic leaders in Iowa on Monday proposed a major change in the state’s presidential caucuses by allowing a form of absentee voting next year that aims to expand participation in the first 2020 nominating contest. It would let Iowa Democrats take part via telephone or online in one of six “virtual caucuses” during the week before the traditional Iowa caucuses. That would allow people to get involved even if they can’t attend the traditional gatherings in person because of a disability, work, parenting or another reason. If adopted it “will be the most significant changes to the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses since their inception in 1972,” Troy Price, the state party’s chairman, told reporters on a conference call.

Full Article: Iowa Democrats Propose `Virtual' Caucuses for First Time in 2020 - Bloomberg.

Iowa: A constitutional amendment to restore felon voting rights may hinge on requirement to fully pay restitution | Des Moines Register

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to amend the Iowa Constitution to automatically restore voting rights to convicted felons will face opposition from lawmakers who insist criminals must first repay all court-ordered restitution, legal and civil rights advocacy groups said. The proposal as currently written would restore voter rights to felons after they complete their sentence. More than 50,000 people would be affected. But some lawmakers have said felons should additionally be required to complete repayment of their court-ordered restitution before being allowed to cast ballots. No groups have registered in opposition to her plan. A legislative subcommittee will meet to discuss the issue for the first time Thursday at noon.

Full Article: Felon voting rights: Iowa proposal faces opposition from hardliners.

Iowa: Voter ID: Judge strikes rule on absentee ballots as ‘irrational, illogical and wholly unjustifiable’ | Des Moines Register

An Iowa judge struck down part of a 2017 voter ID law dealing with absentee ballots — a decision opponents of the law say will make it easier for voters to get ballots and Secretary of State Paul Pate said will make it “easier to cheat.” Polk County District Court Judge Karen Romano called the rule unlawful and blocked it from taking effect in a Wednesday ruling. The rule had prevented county auditors from using an existing statewide voter database to look up missing voter information when processing absentee ballot requests. Romano wrote that limiting auditors’ use of the database was “irrational, illogical, and wholly unjustifiable.” The decision was part of the larger legal fight over Iowa’s 2017 voter ID law, which went into full effect this year. A separate lawsuit seeks to overturn the entire law.

Full Article: Iowa Voter ID: Judge strikes down part of state rules on absentee ballots.

Iowa: Judge Strikes Down Absentee-Ballot Rules | Courthouse News

The Iowa secretary of state’s rules implemented last year restricting how election officials verify absentee ballots is illegal, a state judge ruled Thursday, saying the secretary incorrectly interpreted state law. Polk County District Court Judge Karen Romano temporarily enjoined enforcement of the new rules last July, which was upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court, and her 10-page ruling issued Wednesday and released publicly Thursday permanently blocked the new rules from being enforced. The ruling prevents the state from implementing regulations regarding verifying a voter’s legitimacy if their absentee ballot lacks a voter-verification number.

Full Article: Iowa Judge Strikes Down Absentee-Ballot Rules.

Iowa: House Republicans to end review of contested election | Des Moines Register

Iowa House Republicans are ending their review of a contested Statehouse race separated by nine votes, arguing that a set of rejected ballots at the heart of the challenge shouldn’t be opened or counted. The announcement Wednesday by a key Republican lawmaker greatly diminishes Democrat Kayla Koether’s chances of getting the Iowa Legislature to accept 29 rejected mail-in ballots in the House District 55 race. Rep. Michael Bergan, R-Dorchester, was declared the winner in the race and took his seat this year. Rep. Steven Holt, a Denison Republican overseeing a five-member, GOP-led special election committee, said Republicans believe election law doesn’t allow the ballots to be reviewed. “We lack the legal authority to open these ballots,” Holt said.

Full Article: Iowa House Republicans to end review of contested election.

Iowa: Reynolds’ proposal to restore felon voting rights requires probation, parole | Des Moines Register

Felons in Iowa would be allowed to register to vote after completing their prison sentences, probation and parole under a proposed constitutional amendment Gov. Kim Reynolds released Tuesday. Reynolds proposed restoring felon voting rights in her Condition of the State address last week. Iowa is one of two states that permanently bar felons from voting unless they successfully petition the governor or president to restore their rights. To be enacted, the proposal would need to pass the Legislature twice and then be approved by voters. “I do think Iowans are at a place that they believe that this is the right direction to go, but ultimately, they’ll be the ones to have a say in that,” Reynolds said.

Full Article: Reynolds' proposal to restore felon voting rights requires probation, parole.

Iowa: Reynolds to propose lifting felon voting ban in Condition of the State | Des Moines Register

Gov. Kim Reynolds will propose a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to convicted felons in a Condition of the State address that highlights “the beauty of grace” and second chances. “Talk with someone who, by their own actions, hit rock bottom but decided to turn their life around,” Reynolds will say Tuesday, according to her prepared remarks, portions of which were shared exclusively with the Des Moines Register. “Watch their face light up when they tell you about the person who offered them a helping hand. … There are few things as powerful as the joy of someone who got a second chance and found their purpose.”

Full Article: Reynolds to propose lifting felon voting ban in Condition of the State.

Iowa: Push is on to ease restoration of felon voting rights | Des Moines Register

There is a proven fix for Iowa’s felon voting ban that has mistakenly rejected the ballots of law-abiding Iowans: Let felons vote once they’ve served their time, dozens of civil and legal groups say. It’s an idea Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ staff is reviewing with some key lawmakers in her party, a state senator said recently. Reynolds could make the change by executive order, but both the Republican senator and a Democratic House member said they want to look at legislative action to change the system in some way this year. “We need to talk about this in a way that gets rid of those pejorative attitudes about criminal reform that are just getting us stuck,” said Myrna Loehrlein, the chairwoman of a justice committee with the League of Women Voters of Iowa.

Full Article: Iowa elections: Push is on to ease restoration of felon voting rights.

Iowa: Mailing codes could have called close Iowa race |

Despite having been mailed back before the November election, 29 absentee ballots in Northeast Iowa’s House District 55 race — which was decided by a mere nine votes — were never postmarked and therefore cannot be counted, state officials say. But they could have been counted by now if Winneshiek County had availed itself of a safeguard the Iowa Legislature approved two years ago — an “intelligent bar code” that can verify if mailed-in ballots meet the deadline even if they are not postmarked. That safeguard is voluntary, and currently is used by only seven of Iowa’s 99 counties. It adds a few pennies to the cost of each mailed-in ballot, and takes time to set up. But there is no assurance the Postal Service will postmark each letter, and therefore no assurance that absentee votes mailed in on time will ever be counted.

Full Article: Mailing codes could have called close Iowa race | News |

Iowa: Should Iowa restore voting rights to 52,000 felons? Advisory board pushes proposal. | Des Moines Register

Iowa felon voter rights should be restored, a legislative advisory board recommended Wednesday. It’s a proposal that could affect about 52,000 Iowans. After Florida voters on Nov. 6 approved an amendment to their state’s constitution that automatically restores the voting rights of felons who’ve completed their sentences or go on probation, Iowa and Kentucky are the only remaining states that permanently ban all felons from voting unless the governor individually restores their rights. “Iowa has been a leader on a whole range of civil rights issues; this is not one of them. Iowa is in the back of the line on this one,” Daniel Zeno, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, said Wednesday to Iowa’s Public Safety Advisory Board.

Full Article: Should Iowa restore voting rights to 52,000 felons? Advisory board pushes proposal..

Iowa: State’s shield against election cyberattacks: paper ballots | The Gazette

Iowa officials say they are using old-school technology — namely paper ballots — to thwart cyberterrorists employing sophisticated methods from trying to hack into the state’s voting systems. Iowa officials held a Statehouse news conference Monday to assure voters who already are casting early ballots in the run-up to the Nov. 6 general election that steps are being taken to ensure the integrity of the process and trust in the final outcome. “We vote on paper ballots,” said Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, who is on that ballot because he faces a challenge from Democrat Deidre DeJear. “This a crucial security measure. You can’t hack a paper ballot.” The state of Iowa’s computer systems face thousands of attacks on a daily basis, said Jeff Franklin of the Iowa Office of the Chief Information Officer. However, there is no evidence of any unauthorized intrusions into the election system, he noted, mainly because outside of voter registration very little of Iowa’s process or voting equipment is web-based.

Full Article: Iowa's shield against election cyberattacks: paper ballots | The Gazette.

Iowa: Advocacy groups fear voter ID laws disenfranchise students | Iowa State Daily

Students, public officials and action groups are asking Iowa State to make voting easier for students as Iowa’s new voter ID laws will be in partial effect for 2018’s midterm election. The law, signed in 2017 by former Gov. Terry Branstad and championed by Secretary of State Paul Pate, adds a requirement for voters to present a valid form of identification in order to ensure their eligibility, amongst other regulations, but some say this could pose a threat to the integrity of the system it was designed to protect. However, most of the law’s provisions won’t be in effect for this election, due to an injunction filed by Taylor Blair, president of Iowa State’s College Democrats, alongside the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.

Full Article: Advocacy groups fear Iowa voter ID laws disenfranchise students | News |