Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate announced a plan to provide $1 million to Iowa counties to assist them with cybersecurity resources ahead of the 2020 elections. Pate made the pledge during an annual gathering of Iowa’s county auditors.

During the next few weeks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Iowa’s Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) will conduct scans of all 99 counties’ websites and internal systems. Following those scans, the Secretary of State’s Office will make an initial investment of $1 million to help cover the expenses of recommended upgrades. Almost every Iowa county already receives at least three cyber-services from the OCIO, including training, intrusion detection, and malware prevention, says a press release. 

“We built a very strong foundation to secure Iowa’s elections. It is now time to take our cybersecurity to the next level. We need to bolster our cyber maturity,” Secretary Pate said. “These steps will help ensure Iowa’s elections are protected for 2020 and beyond.”

Secretary Pate is also helping counties transition their websites to .gov domains. This step will ensure the all 99 counties’ websites have top level security, says a press release. The Secretary of State’s Office will cover the cost for counties to make the transition. The Department of Homeland Security recommends all government entities utilize the .gov domain for their websites, and the National Association of Secretaries of State adopted a similar resolution last month.

“The Iowa election community has done a tremendous job of adapting to the changing world of election cybersecurity. This is a team effort and we need to all be on the same page,” Secretary Pate said. We have strengthened the security around our state voter registration database, in my office and in county auditors’ offices.

The funding to assist counties with cybersecurity services comes from a federal grant to Iowa through the Help America Vote Act.