Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced on Wednesday several new measures his office is taking to ensure the integrity of Iowa’s felon database. Felons are currently barred from voting in Iowa unless their rights have been restored by the Governor. Iowa’s felon database contains more than 90,000 files.
The new steps to ensure the system’s accuracy include a manual review of all 90,000 files. Secretary Pate has repurposed existing staff for this project and will be bringing on additional staff soon. The goal is for the review to be completed prior to the November 3, 2020 general election.
“My team has put in countless hours to update the felon database, and many more hours of work are needed,” Secretary Pate said. “I want to ensure every single file is accurate. That is going to take a lot of time, energy and resources, but we will get it done.”
Secretary Pate is also working with the Iowa Judicial Branch to ensure information provided by the courts to the Secretary of State’s Office regarding felony convictions is accurate. This includes a six-step verification process. Three of those steps are new, and the others have been enhanced.
Another step Secretary Pate has taken is the introduction of a new administrative rule that clarifies the roles of the Iowa Judicial Branch, the Secretary of State’s Office and county auditors regarding the felon database. The rule was submitted to the State of Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency for review on Tuesday.
“We are improving our processes to make sure eligible voters are not deterred from casting ballots,” Secretary Pate said. “My staff is going to dig through every record, no matter how old, double and triple check the information with the courts, and make sure everything is correct. This is a team effort and we’ve asked the courts and all 99 county auditors to take the additional steps.”
Secretary Pate’s Office will utilize funds provided through the Help America Vote Act to pay for additional staff and review of the felon data.
“The bottom line is we repeatedly ask election officials to use the provisional ballot option if there is any doubt about a voter’s status. We don’t want any eligible voter to be disenfranchised,” Secretary Pate said.