DES MOINES, Iowa – Secretary of State Paul Pate announced a plan to provide grants of $10,000 to each Iowa county for election cybersecurity enhancements. The grants, his office says, will build upon Iowa’s solid foundation of cyber defenses.
“Protecting elections with proven cybersecurity methods is a top priority for my office. The security and integrity of Iowa’s elections is strong, and these grants will help ensure they remain strong by boosting our cyber maturity,” Secretary Pate said.
Last year, Pate adopted several new administrative rules to strengthen the security of Iowa’s elections. The rules cover guidelines such as the development of incident response plans, reporting requirements, and improved password strength. They also mandate that counties utilize cyber hygiene scans, assessments, and tools from the Iowa Office of Chief Information Officer and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security unless the county already receives similar services from a private vendor.
“The emerging cybersecurity threats to our elections have to be confronted at all levels of government. That can be especially challenging in smaller counties with limited resources,” said Ringgold County Auditor Amanda Waske. “These grants are a great step toward advancing election security in all counties.”
The vast majority of Iowa’s county election websites have moved to the DotGov domains after Secretary Pate authorized payments to reimburse counties for the transition. The DotGov domain assures voters they are receiving election information from a trusted source.
“I’m thankful for the attention Secretary Pate and his office have given to cybersecurity issues over the past several years,” said Eric Guth, president of the Iowa Counties Information Technology Organization. “It is exciting to see this investment being made to specifically address election cybersecurity at the county level.”
The funding to assist counties with cybersecurity services comes from a federal grant to Iowa through the Help America Vote Act, and the grants must be spent in accordance with the requirements of the law, which includes elements from the administrative rules adopted by Secretary Pate in 2020.