DES MOINES, Iowa — Election Day is less than a month away, and Local 5 is tracking all the big races, including that for Iowa Secretary of State.
Iowa's secretary of state serves as the head administrator for both elections and businesses. The position oversees each of the 99 county auditors and heads up the business filings office, which is located in downtown Des Moines.
Republican Paul Pate was first voted into public office as a member of the Senate in 1989 where he served for six years.
Following his time in the Senate, Pate was elected in 1994 as Iowa’s Secretary of State. In 2001 he served as Cedar Rapids Mayor as well as President of the Iowa League of Cities. Pate returned as Secretary of State in 2015, where he has served since.
Since the 2020 election, the Republican-led Iowa Legislature has passed laws cutting back on the time Iowans can vote:
- Polling places on Election Day close at 8 p.m. for all elections. (Originally 9 p.m.)
- Absentee ballots must physically be at election offices by the time polls close on Election Day. (This means postmarked ballots and Intelligent Mail no longer count)
- Employees are allowed 2 hours off work to go vote. (Previously 3 hours)
Some supporters of Senate File 413 argued the changes were necessary to protect the election process, despite there being no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Iowa.
Pate has denied allegations of voter fraud in Iowa elections, saying he believes in the validity of the 2020 presidential election.
In regards to Senate file 413, Pate told Local 5 in a one-one interview ahead of the June primaries that he facilitates legislation like Senate file 413 as an administrator.
“The Legislature writes the laws of the land. I’m the administrator, like I said, the referee. I’m sure some of the umpires and every office doesn’t like every rule that comes out but I’ll say this," Pate said. "A lot of what the Legislature did was exactly what the voters were asking for.”
Pate’s reelection campaign focuses on the work he has done since gaining office in 2015, including advocating for Voter ID laws in the state of Iowa
Pate's opponent, Democrat Joel Miller agrees with Pate on the need for Voter IDs but challenges him on other issues.
Miller, from Independence, will be taking on the incumbent in the midterm elections. With experience as a member of Robins City Council and has held office as Linn County Auditor since 2007, Miller is campaigning for more accessible voting.
One of the key parts of Miller's campaign is to return early voting to 40 days before election day versus the 20 days it was changed to in 2021.
In a Des Moines Register article from September, Miller explained why he believes an extension of early voting is important for Iowa voters:
"In some places in the state it takes six business days one way for a letter to get there and six business days to get back. If there's any procrastination or any delay in the mail system like there was in Clinton County where 46 absentee ballots were stuck in the mail system in Moline, Illinois, and those ballots did not get counted when there was a race separated by 7 votes, then we have a problem here.”
Miller's other platforms follow the theme of accessibility, including sending voter guides before elections to those who are registered to vote, allowing voters to request absentee ballots online, and registering 17-year-olds to vote as they apply for their licenses.
Throughout his campaign, Miller has made a point to "disavow" high-profile politicians like Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani for saying the 2020 presidential election was rigged, something Miller believes his opponent hasn't done enough of.
"Why not disavow the election deniers?" Miller told The Register. “You're not disavowing them, and so what's happening is all 99 county auditors are having to disavow them individually instead of the chief election administrator in the state disavowing these election deniers."
Pate responded by saying he regularly works against misinformation.
"I do it every single day," he said.
Stay with Local 5 on Election Day to see election results from across Iowa.
Visit https://www.weareiowa.com/elections to see all results.