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Social media emerges as top issue for Iowa election and security officials

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, along with the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and FBI, spoke Thursday about election security.

JOHNSTON, Iowa — Battling misinformation and disinformation spreading on social media regarding the 2020 election is the top issue for Iowa's top election officials.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joyce Flinn and other state and federal election officials held a press conference Thursday at the State Emergency Operations Center in Johnson.

Pate says his office has to balance censoring free speech and cracking down on flat-out lies about the election.

"We have to work on that every single day. And you may hear a press conference called by me or a tweet and my colleagues are going to be doing the same thing," Pate said. "And that's our battlefront ... it's a step one and there are volumes of messages and we do our best to monitor them."

Three things to know about how Iowa's election system works and why Pate and others believe it is secure:

  1. Voting via paper ballots — Some states use electronic voting machines, but Iowa does not.
  2. The way votes are counted — Paper ballots are tabulated through counting machines on election night, and those results are sent through a secure channel to the Secretary of State. Results are cross-checked through the night.
  3. How the counting machines are connected — There is no internet involved, so state officials are confident votes will not be manipulated or changed.

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