The Ledger continues its profiles of statehouse candidates by focusing on the race for Iowa Secretary of State.
Republican Paul Pate is the acting secretary of state. He was profiled in the Oct. 19 edition of The Ledger. Today we profile Libertarian Party candidate Julia Ofenbakh.
Ofenbakh was given a list of questions to answer, and prepared the following statement, touching on her attitudes toward Voter I.D. laws, her background in computer security, and her involvement in the Libertarian Party.
- - -
There are two current issues that matter the most to me. First, the right to vote should be protected. The current Secretary of State has focused on Voter I.D. laws but such laws do not actually protect the right to vote.
Voter I.D. laws often inhibit voting. Additionally, there are very few cases of verified voter fraud in Iowa. According to report, in the 2016 election there were 10 improper votes out of 1.6 million cast. The risk of voter fraud is not high enough to necessitate a cumbersome law that limits voters.
In order to address voting rights and the current Voter I.D. law, the focus should be on the election procedures to ensure that each vote is accurately cast and counted. The Secretary of State has the responsibility to train the county auditors and poll workers. Through training the county auditors and poll workers, each vote can be counted without imposing expensive and cumbersome laws, such as the Voter I.D. laws.
Second, the efficiency and effectiveness of the Secretary of State is equally important to me. Business owners must rely on the Secretary of State for business filings, which is often a cumbersome process. Political parties also rely on the Secretary of State for registered voter lists. Despite the Secretary of State introducing Fast Track Filing for business forms, the system is limited to specific business filings.
The efficient and effective running of the Secretary of State starts by auditing and evaluating the current system to find waste and inefficiency. A large source of inefficiency in the Secretary of State office stems from the business filings.
Until recently, all forms needed to be filed in person or via mail. If sent in via mail, it could take weeks for a business filing to be approved and filed. Now, with Fast Track Filing a business can file the original organization documents and change the registered agent or office. Any other filings still need to be filed in person or via mail.
The Fast Track System should have been launched with the ability to file all documents. With a computer science background, I have the ability to expand the online filing system for business in addition to adding more functions, such as political parties being able to request voter lists online instead of by paper or by email.
I have been an active member of the Libertarian Party since 2012. I became an at-large representative for the Party in 2015 where I worked alongside many others to further the Libertarian Party goals. I was proud to vote in the first ever Iowa Libertarian Primaries in June of 2018 which were only possible due to the hard work of the party and candidates willing to run on the Libertarian ticket. The experience of helping the Party and working with various candidates lead me to run for office.
I grew up in Russia until my family immigrated when I was 16 years old and asked for political asylum. I graduated from Kean University, New Jersey, in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. I received my Juris Doctorate and Master’s in Business Administration from Drake University in 2009.
I have an extensive background in computer security as I spent almost ten years in the computer field. At the age of 22, while working for County of Union, New Jersey, as a helpdesk supervisor, I was in charge of hiring (and firing), supervising, and training helpdesk professionals serving over 1,000 county employees.
At the age of 23, I went to work for a private sector start-up where I was also in charge of hiring, supervising, and training employees to provide proper product support. Since 2002, I have served as founder and business management consultant for Home Care With Love, Inc.
While in this capacity, I have submitted business plans, attained appropriate forms and certificates, and written over 150 business policies to gain accreditation in accordance with the state and federal regulations. Currently, I serve as an active part of the board of directors and advise on various business issues.
Upon graduation from law school, I made a challenging and somewhat risky decision to start my own law practice and built it from the ground up. Today, my team consists of four support staff and one incoming associate with a total of approximately 1,000 Iowans represented since I started.
My clients would describe me as a fierce fighter for their rights. I built my business essentially by word of mouth referrals. My varied background will be most beneficial as the Secretary of State.