Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate speaks to reporters on Thursday, May 16, 2024 as Dallas County elections staff test their 50 vote tabulators to ensure the machines are working properly ahead of the June 4 primary election.

ADEL — Machines hummed as staffers gathered at the Dallas County elections office to test the county’s 50 vote tabulators Thursday morning.

Early voting began Wednesday ahead of the June 4 primary election. Ahead of every election cycle, counties are required to test all their vote tabulators to make sure they’re working properly. The process was open to the public.

As staff fed sample ballots into the machines, a message popped up: “Your ballot was cast successfully. Thank you for voting.”

Election officials said the tests confirmed all the machines are functioning properly.

Secretary of State Paul Pate said the tests should give Iowans confidence that election results will be accurate.

“Social media has really put a lot of focus on things like tabulators,” Pate told reporters. “And we want the public to know that we’ve got their back, that we test these and they’re certified and there’s a lot of processes involved. And they have full access to watching this process so they have a comfort level. And that way they can trust the election results.”

More: Early voting has started for Iowa’s June 4 primary election. Here’s what you should know:

Other aspects of Iowa’s election system are also designed to ensure the results are accurate, Pate said. Those safeguards include using paper ballots, requiring voter ID and conducting post-election audits to check the results.

“And let’s not forget the secret weapon, and that’s our poll workers,” he said. “Your friends and neighbors who serve as poll workers, representing all the political parties, that will be there from the very beginning to the very end, to assure you that everything is accurate.”

Dallas County Auditor Julia Helm said one of her office’s big tasks ahead of the June primary is raising awareness that an election is happening.

“Just trying to get voters aware that there’s a primary and it’s time to vote because many voters don’t know or they forget that there’s a primary after we do the caucus,” she said.

Helm said voters should also double check their polling place. Because of its population growth, Dallas County added 12 new polling places after the redistricting process was completed in 2021. So voters who haven’t gone to the polls since the 2020 presidential election may need to go to a new site.

More: 2024 Iowa election guide: What are the candidates saying ahead of the June primary?

Voters in the primary will choose their party’s candidates for Congress, the Iowa Legislature and county offices.

Pate said the primary election will have lower turnout than this November’s general election, but it’s a good chance for election officials to make sure they’re prepared.

“It’s a political party’s nomination process so it’s not going to have the highest voter turnout compared to what this fall will bring, but it’s kind of the off-Broadway,” he said. “It’s kind of like let’s get ready for the big one because come November you’re going to have a lot of people out there.”

More: Poll worker training a priority for Iowa secretary of state heading into 2024 election

The Iowa Legislature this year approved about $445,000 for Pate’s office to hire additional staff and conduct poll worker training around the state. Pate said that training will ensure every county’s poll workers get the same core training so there’s consistency across Iowa.

“We have 10,000 poll workers,” he said. “Some of those are new people. Some of those people are working long hours during the day. So we want to make sure we’ve given them the knowledge base to be successful.”

Stephen Gruber-Miller covers the Iowa Statehouse and politics for the Register. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 515-284-8169. Follow him on Twitter at @sgrubermiller.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Paul Pate highlights Iowa’s voting safeguards ahead of primary election

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