DES MOINES – Paul Pate, a 2014 Republican candidate for Iowa secretary of state, said Tuesday he plans to keep the focus on combating voter fraud and working for a bipartisan solution for beefing up voter ID efforts at the polls.
“It’s imperative that we qualify all voters,” said Pate, a Cedar Rapids businessman and former mayor who previously served for six years as a state senator and four as Iowa secretary of state from 1995 to 1999.
Pate told about two dozen members of the Des Moines Conservative Breakfast Club that a majority of Iowans want an identification system that protects the integrity of the ballot box, and he would like to see the “best minds” come together in a bipartisan effort to make that a reality.
“We can argue all day on what kind, where at and is it going to impede voter access?” said Pate, who recently announced his candidacy for Iowa’s Secretary of State office in this year’s election. “I think we’re smart enough to figure out a way to get that done, to secure our election system and still give people access.”
Current Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who is giving up the office to run for the open U.S. House seat in Iowa’s 3rd congressional district, spent nearly $150,000 on a long-running voter fraud investigation that the state auditor suggested may not be an appropriate use of federal money.
If elected, Pate said he planned to look at Schultz’s effort “very closely” and decide if the resources are available to continue a joint project with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation that has yielded charges in 16 cases and five guilty pleas.
Schultz has used funds provided under the Helping America Vote Act (HAVA) to finance the project which may have to be repaid if a federal election commission decides criminal investigations are not an appropriate use of HAVA funds.
“This one has some controversy that we’ll have to sort out,” Pate said. “When you do your budgeting, you want to do your budgeting with the dollars that are available.”
At the same time, he pledged the Secretary of State’s Office would “do everything” to protect voter registration in Iowa by doing thing like providing more professional training with county auditors, using computer software to insure a “clean” registration list and doing more outreach to get young people interested in the voting process.
Pate said the “clock is ticking” on more candidates declaring in the secretary of state’s race but he added “we’ll take ‘em on as they come.” Looking ahead to the general election, he noted that Democrat Brad Anderson already has raised more than $150,000 for the 2014 race but he hopes to energize Republican voters, gain some “coattail” effect from having Gov. Terry Branstad at the top of the ticket and be “very, very competitive” in fundraising.
“My name fits the position — Pate for Secretary of State, you can’t get a better sound byte than that,” he said.
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