DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s election isn’t rigged and every vote cast by an eligible voter will be counted, the state’s top elections official said Monday, countering Donald Trump’s assertion that this year’s elections are rigged.
Secretary of State Paul Pate, who like Trump is a Republican, was responding to recent comments that the GOP presidential has been making, including an early-morning tweet criticizing party officials who deny his claims.
“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!” Trump tweeted.
There is no evidence to back up claims of widespread voter fraud. Both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, have expressed confidence in the voting system. Pence declared Sunday the ticket will “absolutely accept the results of the election.”
During his weekly news conference on Monday, Iowa’s Republican governor, Terry Branstad, repeated one of Trump’s claims: that national media outlets are “colluding” with Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign to get her elected. Branstad acknowledged, though, there have been a few examples of previous voter fraud suggesting it’s a possibility.
Branstad, whose son Eric Branstad is running Trump’s state campaign operation, said media bias and voter fraud are “one in the same” and are responsible for creating a perception that the system is rigged against Trump.
Branstad said he always supports the outcome of elections, but that he wants state and local election officials to be vigilant in protecting the security of the ballot box. He said he’s confident they’ll try their level best, but added “nobody’s perfect.”
“I also have great confidence in our secretary of state and our county auditors and the citizens that serve as poll watchers to see that we have an honest and clean election in Iowa,” he said. “But at the end of the day I trust the voters.”
Pate said Trump’s accusations are not helpful and confuse voters. He also disagreed with Branstad’s assessment that alleged media bias and fraud are part of the same problem.
“There’s the technical side of elections and then there’s the media side of elections and they are different but sometimes they get blended together,” he said.
Pate said that the technical side — the casting of ballots — is secure.
“I assure you it will be counted and no one will be doing anything to tamper with it,” he said.
Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, said Trump is losing and trying to blame it on the system.
“This is what losers do,” he said. “And we’re not even going to give it any credit by amplifying it. It’s not true. The system is not rigged.”
Eric Branstad declined to comment.