DES MOINES, IOWA — Cybersecurity for the United States’ election process has been zeroed in on by election officials and politicians since the 2016 election.

The University of Southern California Election Cybersecurity Initiative hosted a regional workshop for Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska on Thursday. The workshop was free to attend and open to anyone in the public.

The USC Election Cybersecurity Initiative has been informing voters, election officials and politicians for several years, in every state across the country about cybersecurity and how states are making sure their elections are safe.

“They haven’t gone away and the threats that we saw in 2016 like Iran trying to get into our voter registration systems and our voter registration databases,” said Kim Wyman, a Senior Election Security Lead for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Iran and China still are seeming to have some of that activity. We are seeing it and have seen it since 2018 and 2020.”

Iowa’s Secretary of State Paul Pate talked for several minutes during the presentation. He hit on the state’s voting equipment and how accuracy and security are ensured.

“Every tabulator produces a paper receipt of the vote totals that can be matched to the paper ballot totals to ensure accuracy,” said Pate. “Our vote tabulators are air-gapped, which means they are not connected through the internet. The physical piece of voting equipment is accounted for through a chain of custody in all 99 counties.”

Pate would also add that his office and county election officials are committed to smooth elections and that voters have all the tools to be successful.

In Iowa, the state has seen several changes to voting laws. Including shortened window’s for early in-person voting, absentee ballots and other changes. One Iowan hopes that the threat of cybersecurity in the state is not used to restrict voting access.

“We do need to be concerned about election security,” said Susan Leonard, from Windsor Heights. “In saying that, in what I have seen in not just the state of Iowa, across the country, is that there have been attempts to restrict access to the voting process.”

Over the next two weeks, workshops will be held for nine other states across the country. The USC Election Cybersecurity Initiative is nonpartisan the workshop on Thursday featured both Republicans and Democrats from Midwest states.