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THIS WEEK: Will the polls be safe in 2022?

Iowa's Secretary of State predicts a safe and calm election season this November.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa's elections will be run differently in 2022 and that doesn't bother the man in charge of making sure everything runs smoothly.

Secretary of State Paul Pate points to the work done before, during, and after the record turnout in the 2020 election.

"Iowans got a fair, open election, they believe the results," said Pate on "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens".

Pate admits that some 2020 election workers faced ugly comments from some voters.

"There was some backlash, clearly."

But he says that was the exception, not the rule.

"You look at the national scene you'll see some 'hot spots' here and there," he said.

"But if you look at the vast majority of all of our polling sites around the Country, particularly here in Iowa, we run a pretty safe, calm, cool, collected elections."

Listen to our entire interview with Secretary of State Paul Pate on THE CITIES PODCAST.

A number of changes were enacted by the Republican-majority legislature in 2021 aimed to protect the integrity of Iowa elections.

Among the changes:

  • Early voting period is shortened to 20 days before Election Day rather than 29 (it was 40 days before 2017)
  • Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., rather than 9 p.m.
  • Absentee ballots will be available 70 days before an election and must be in the Auditor's Office before the polls close (rather than e postmarked by Election Day)
  • The voter registration deadline is now 5 p.m. 15 days before each election
  • Voters can only use one ballot drop box per county

When she signed the bill into law in 2021, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said it promotes accountability and transparency.

Pate is urging more people to help the state conduct elections by becoming poll workers.

He says workers will be trained to handle confrontations and other issues that may occur at the voting booth.

"We work very hard with our Auditors and our poll workers to give them the kind of training so they can deal with any type of situation, whether it might be a conflict with someone concerned with how the election is run or whether it's a natural disaster."

And he says the "tension" seen at some polling stations in 2020 were unique to safety measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite new challenges to the elections and the process seen since November 2020, Pate says Iowa vote counters will be ready in 2022.

"We partner with law enforcement.  We make sure we have a safe environment."

Watch "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens" Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.