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Pate: Iowa is Open for Business

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Secretary of State Paul Pate attended the Story County Republican Central Committee Meeting on Monday to discuss the voter integrity bill and issues affecting his office.

He mentioned the current decorum of the people showing up at the Capitol and legislative events in Iowa. “I served two terms in the Iowa Senate. I served as Secretary of State for four years awhile ago. And now I’m serving another term. In all those years of public service I have never seen people so rude with others that if their mother saw them would kick them right in the heiny. The legislators and their families have to put up with a lot right now for supporting policies supported overwhelmingly by Iowans last November. Please show up to their events and let them know you support them.”

Pate was happy with the growing numbers of new companies filing to open their doors for business in Iowa. But he’s concerned with the outdated systems used in his office.

“We missed the Bill Gates computer age. We are about two steps removed from the cloud. And where we are at frustrates the venders that work with our systems. If our system crashes we are out of luck. There is no backup. The tough part is how do we fund it?

“Our office generates over 5 million dollars in fees. We don’t keep it. It goes to the General Fund. For every dollar in fees our office gets a quarter. It costs more than a quarter to do our job. We need the full dollar to set up a revolving fund. It shouldn’t go to fund other projects like a franchise fee. Retaining the fees will give us the budget to get technology upgraded to the speed of business. If we don’t fix this come May 20th we are out of luck. Our venders will not service us. We will be buying our parts on eBay. As a business person you draw a line and decide that a car our truck is shot and decide it’s time to get a new one so you aren’t sinking more money into it than it’s worth to keeping it going. A fee is a fee for service. That’s the Republican way. And we need it going towards what you’re paying it for.”

He spoke of his duty as the State Commissioner of Elections.

“Republicans continue to outpace Democrats when we update our systems. The biggest change has been with the addition of official party status for the Libertarian Party. They have 9000 members. Making them official comes with an additional expense. It cost $125k to make them an official party. Last time [a third party received official status] was when Nader ran for President.”

He mentioned the newly added online voter registration in Iowa.

“Online voter registration is a smashing success. Seventy thousand people registered online. The system enables us to cross check records to those verified with the Department of Transportation. Adding this registration method has led to a 30% reduction in same day registration on Election Day.”

He encouraged attendees to contact their Senators and ask them to support the Voter Integrity Bill that has moved through the house.

“A Des Moines Register Poll showed that legislation like this was supported by most Republicans. Independents support it at around 70%. And nearly half the Democrats do to. When the rank and file Democrats favor something like this you know it’s something Iowans want.”

“There are a handful of elitist Democrats that want to stop this legislation even though the rank and file in their own party support it. We need the bill passed and we need to move it forward.”

He mentioned that the voter integrity bill will help his office catch human error. It gives his office oversight to catch things like the Dallas County ballots that were not counted in the official Supervisor Canvas last year.

The Bill also sets a revolving fund to encourage but not force counties to use the Ebooks. “72 counties have electronic poll books. This is not an unfunded mandate. This is a nudge.”

When discussing the issue of voters with licenses he said that the age bracket of 65-91 had the highest percentages of Iowa issued identification. The lowest were students who may be attending college with a drivers license from another state. “They would be able to use the voter ID”

He went on to say “Integrity and participation are not mutually exclusive. The problems are two things. One is human error. The other is stupid people who do things to cause problems. There may be people who decide to vote their kid’s ballot. Or there may be a person that forgets they voted absentee four weeks ago.”

When it comes to the window for absentee voting he said he wants to cut it off at ten days to ensure all the ballots that have been sent have had a chance to come back before Election Day. “Legislators may want to cut off at the beginning but we don’t really have an opinion on that.”

Pate also mentioned a bill that would combine School Board Elections with municipal ones. “It’s dismal that in a State that ranks in the top 4 for voter participation you may only get 5% turnout for school board elections. A city race might get up to 15%. But if you look at your property taxes where is it all going?”

Pate isn’t expected to have a free run for Reelection in 2018. Johnson County Auditor, Travis Weipert, is considering a challenge. Weipert initiated a primary challenge to longtime Auditor, Tom Slockett by engaging in a voter suppression campaign. Slockett received a reprimand in 2012 from the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure board which was recently overturned by a Polk County Judge.

During the meeting the Story County Republican Central Committee also reelected their officers. Brett Barker and Jeff Ortiz will remain as Chair and Co-Chair, respectfully. The County GOP Treasurer and former Ames City Council member, Jeremy Davis, also told TIS he is considering a rematch with Ames State Senator Herman Quirmbach.


John Thompson is a graduate of West Point and Harvard and a member of the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee and a candidate for Treasurer of State.