SPECIAL REPORT: Protecting Your Vote - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SPECIAL REPORT: Protecting Your Vote

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Someone rattled the doorknob, but couldn't get in.

That someone was most likely Russia.

The door they tried to get in takes you inside state election systems, including Iowa's.

In less than two weeks, many of you will vote in elections for city council and mayor.

KWWL is Digging Deeper to see what's being done so your right to vote doesn't end up in the wrong hands.

Hackers have left consumers and corporate America on edge in recent years.

Security breaches at companies like Yahoo, Target and Equifax left personal information exposed.

That threat is now being extended to one of the most sacred rights of democracy.

Grant Veeder, the longtime Black Hawk County auditor, is confident in the system.

"The fact that our voting machines are not connected to the Internet makes it impossible for someone from Russia to hack into them," said Veeder.

However, statewide, something else is connected.

Iowa's voter registration database was targeted by hackers last year.

The system wasn't breached, but what happens if they do get in someday?  KWWL asked Veeder for an example of the disruption it could cause.

"(They could) change addresses so when voters go to the polls, they say, 'This is where I vote' and the precinct election official says, 'Well, we don't have you on our list.' 'We'll, I've lived here all my life.' 'Well, we don't see you on the list,'" said Veeder.

Veeder can't control what happens at the state level, but protecting voter integrity in Black Hawk County is another story.

He gave us a tour of the warehouse that stores the voting machines you see on election day. There are layers of protections, seals used on equipment so they know if someone has tampered with it.

"Either it would take someone who's a total genius and a ninja to do this by themselves or a vast conspiracy of people involved every step of the way if you're even going to attempt something like this," said Veeder.

Hackers may not be the only threat to election systems.

President Trump claimed 3 million people voted illegally last November.

He organized a group to study fraud. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent Iowa's Secretary of State a letter in June asking for a lot of information including the names, dates of birth, political party and last four digits of Social Security numbers for anyone who's registered to vote in the state.

The Associated Press is reporting that Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said providing Social Security numbers is forbidden under Iowa Code.

The letter from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is attached to this story. The group asks several questions. KWWL asked Iowa's Secretary of State how they responded to those questions.

A spokesperson said, "We told them the process to request a voter list, that is required of every person or entity that requests one. Someone in elections handled those communications. Finding them would require staff time and a fee."

KWWL decided it would not pay for that information from the state.

One question the commission asked the state is this:  What evidence or information do you have regarding instances of voter fraud or registration fraud in your state?

KWWL asked the Black Hawk County Attorney a similar question. That office says 20 people have been charged with election misconduct in Black Hawk County since 2008. There were 8 who were charged following the 2012 election and the attorney's office told KWWL "only those individuals on probation for a felony offense when they voted were charged with election misconduct."

Lawmakers are also using jury duty as a way to fight fraud.

They passed a law in Iowa which says when filling out paperwork for jury duty, if you say you're not a US citizen, your voter registration can be canceled.

So far, that's happened to 8 people in Iowa since July.


IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR VOTERS:  Iowa has passed new voting laws that require specific identification forms at the polls.

Black Hawk County has provided the information voters need in a document attached to this story.

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