FOIA: M. Luke Martz – Des Moines, IA

April 9, 2021

A while ago, I predicted that election administrators in Iowa and other parts of the USA were going to be inundated with FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests based upon Federal law and/or public records requests based upon Iowa law. Unfortunately, my prediction may be true – see below.

Currently, I am in the process of implementing a software tool to process public records requests more efficiently. One of the features supposedly includes a log of who is requesting what records, similar to the U of I’s.  Until then, I’ll post the requests on this blog. | Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

************************************************************

From: Field Report Media <info@fieldreportmedia.com>
Sent: Thursday, April 08, 2021 8:16 PM
To: Miller, Joel <joel.miller@linncounty-ia.gov>
Subject: Open Records Request

To whom it may concern:

I am submitting this request under the provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 22.

Please provide all messages posted on the service known as “Basecamp” hosted by the Iowa State Association of Counties or Iowa State Association of County Auditors by Linn County Auditor Joel Miller for the previous five years. The request includes all messages from other individuals that Miller replied to and that replied to Miller during this time period.

If there is a fee for fulfilling this request, please inform me in advance of the amount. Section 22.3 says that the fee shall not exceed the actual cost of providing the service. However, I request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute to the public’s understanding of election management. As a member of the media, any relevant information gleaned from this request will be disseminated for public consumption.

The Iowa Open Records Law requires a timely response. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than 10 days, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records.

If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Thank you for considering my request.

Sincerely,

M. Luke Martz
P.O. Box 93712
Des Moines, Iowa 50393

Miller circulating nomination papers

April 6, 2021

GREAT NEWS!   Joel Miller, 65, of Robins is still exploring a run for Iowa Secretary of State (SoS) in the June 7, 2022, Democratic Primary Election. 

NEXT STEP.  Gather 100 signatures from each of Iowa’s 99 counties on Miller’s nomination petitions. 

WHY NOW?  The filing deadline for a candidate for Secretary of State is about eleven (11) months away

WHO CAN SIGN MILLER’S NOMINATION PETITIONS?  Any resident of Iowa who is eligible to vote. 

HOW CAN YOU HELP?  You can circulate Miller’s nomination petitions – see links below. 

Linn County only printable nomination petition

Johnson County only printable nomination petition

Polk County only printable nomination petition

ANY COUNTY nomination petition (FILL-IN the COUNTY NAME in the blank space, and print)

WHY IS MILLER EXPLORING a run for Secretary of State?

  • To make voting easy
  • To speak the truth to lies about our elections
  • To restore faith and trust in Iowa’s elections

WHEN YOU ARE THROUGH gathering signatures, please mail your signed nomination petitions to:

MILLER 4 IOWA SOS  –  375 PHAETON DRIVE – ROBINS, IA  52328

IF YOU ONLY COLLECT a couple of signatures, that’s fine.  Mail your petitions to the above address because every signature gets Miller one step closer to meeting signature requirements. 

SEND A MESSAGE TODAY by circulating Miller’s nomination petitions. 

Thanks in advance for your support! 

Paid for by Miller for Iowa Secretary of State Exploratory Committee (M4SOSEC)

Iowa Election News: New legislation review – SF413

March 26, 2021

The attached pdf from the Iowa Secretary of State’s Legal Counsel summarizes each section of SF413, which was recently signed by the Governor. The key to this new legislation is communication to election administrators like me and my office, and to the public. To that end, this legislation requires county treasurers to print that the polls will be closing at 8pm on county issued property tax bills.

While printing the poll closing times on property tax bills may notify property taxpayers who receive a tax bill, it will do nothing for the taxpayers who don’t read the entire tax bill or for those who don’t receive property taxes bills.

If the State does not thoroughly notify every registered voter of the 8pm deadline – not once, but at least three times prior to the next election – I could easily see 100 to 1,000 absentee ballots not being counted in the November 2021 election because my office did not receive the ballots prior to the 8pm deadline.

SF413 seems to be specific about what I have to do and what I cannot do. So am I in violation of the new law if I take an initiative to inform my constituents/voters that the polls close at 8pm when one or more counties do not take the same initiative? Is the new standard for 98 commissioners of elections to do no more than the county commissioner with the least initiative?

SF413 looks like a race to the bottom for Iowa’s elections.  I hope I’m wrong.  Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

From: Widen, Molly [SOS] <Molly.Hammer@sos.iowa.gov>
Sent: Thursday, March 25, 2021 3:11 PM
Subject: New Legislation Review – SF413

Auditors, Deputies and Staff,

As was discussed during the ISACA spring conference, I have produced a walk-through review of Senate File 413 (SF413). Because this legislation went into effect immediately upon enactment with the signature of the Governor, it is very important that we all quickly become familiar with the language of this bill.

In order to accommodate availability to all election administrators in all 99 counties, this video is available for you to watch in the Auditor’s Portal on the Secretary of State’s website at the following location: https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/video/legreviewsf413.mp4. We request that everyone watch this video and submit any questions for clarification by Friday, April 2. Based on the questions we receive, we will determine the best method for follow-up. That may involve production of a Frequently Asked Questions document or may include a more in-depth Teams meeting depending on needs reflected in your feedback.

The language of this bill is being integrated into the Election Administrator’s Handbook, and updates to those chapters are a top priority right now. We are making good progress toward meeting our goal of having the first five chapters updated and available by mid-April. Relatedly, you can expect another email regarding City–School Election materials in the very near future.

Attached is a pdf of SF413 that we have prepared to assist you in locating a particular section when referring back to the bill. It includes a summary of each section in the margin, and we believe it would be very useful for you to print this document and follow along while watching this video. You are encouraged to make your own notes on this document to make it an even better resource for yourself moving forward.

As I mention throughout the recording, there are some sections of this legislation that will require administrative rules to establish statewide standards and consistent implementation. Because this bill has gone into effect, there is no transition period for the administrative rules process to be completed prior to needing to run elections under these new laws. We understand that vacancy elections are already in the works in some areas, and others may crop up on any given day. If an election is called in your county, please reach out to us so that we can work through implementation of SF413 with you.

If you still have questions after watching the video in its entirety and reviewing the attached version of the bill, then you may submit questions for follow-up by next Friday, April 2. When formatting your questions, please keep in mind that I will not answer questions about hypothetical scenarios. While I understand that election officials are planners, our office is prepared to assist you in navigating real world scenarios and issues as they come up. Asking questions regarding hypothetical fact patterns can lead to confusing, incomplete answers, so I would ask that you stick to clarifying questions about the state of the law today. You can submit your questions at the following link. If you have more than 5 follow-up questions, you may submit the form more than once.

Thank you for taking time to apprise yourselves of these new requirements in your role as an election administrator. We look forward to receiving your questions for follow-up by next Friday, April 2.

Sincerely,

Molly M. Widen – Legal Counsel – Office of Iowa Secretary of State


SF413 Redline.pdf

LULAC challenges new election law

March 9, 2021

Yesterday, the Governor signed new election legislation into law. Today, LULAC challenged the new law. I’m mentioned in the lawsuit – see section 30.

This lawsuit is not likely to be the only challenge to the new law. I predict others will join LULAC and/or file separate actions. Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

LULAC-v.-Pate-Iowa-Voter-Suppression-Petition-2021.pdf

Miller v Voter Registration Commission hearing on March 5th

March 5, 2021

On February 3rd, I blogged about the Court’s inaction to hold a hearing on my appeal of a decision by the Voter Registration Commission (VRC) – see Court’s inaction jeopardizing review of Iowa’s election system

On February 11th, the VRC filed a motion to dismiss my appeal for a hearing.

Today, March 5th, at 11:30am, the Court will hold a hearing on the motion to dismiss – see GoToMeeting link at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/311607541

You are invited to attend this GoToMeeting hearing. Posted by Joel D Miller – Linn County Auditor

13 – IVRC Motion to Dismiss as Moot – 2.11.21.PDF

15 – Miller Resistance to MTDismiss – 2.16.21.PDF

16 – Court Order re Dismiss Hearing – 2.17.21.PDF

Court’s inaction jeopardizing review of Iowa’s election system

February 3, 2021

On 2/1/2021, I asked James Larew, a Johnson County based attorney representing my Office for free, to find out what’s going on with my appeal of the Voter Registration Commission’s decision – see LINN COUNTY AUDITOR VS IOWA VOTER REG COMM CASE: 05771 CVCV059748 (POLK).

I filed a petition for judicial review on 2/13/2020. Judge David Matthew Porter’s last action on the case was on 5/21/2020. My appeal is still relevant.

Our statewide voter registration system (IVoters) is now 17 years old and likely vulnerable to hackers and supposedly won’t be updated until 2023 – the year after the next general election. The current Office of Secretary of State appears content to kick the can down the road for another two years.

In 2017, we discovered foreign adversaries targeted IVoters in 2016, so we spent from 2017 to 2020 hardening our elections infrastructure. Recently, we discovered that foreign adversaries hacked our supply chain, i.e., SolarWinds, which is used by governments in Iowa. Some of those same governments using SolarWinds also support elections infrastructure, which means our current elections infrastructure could be compromised now or sometime in the future, at the convenience of the hackers.

Yet, here we are with IVoters, a 17+ year old system and a Judge who has not filed one action in 8 months in this case during a time when no in-person jury trials are occurring because of the pandemic.

I’m not asking for a jury. I’m just asking for a hearing via Zoom, like the ones that were held when Trump sued county auditors last Fall. Who is cracking the whip on district court judges to ensure cases of being processed? Who should be? Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Auditor

Strict adherence to Iowa law may delay reporting of absentee results

February 2, 2021

On 2/1/2021, I received a notice of technical infraction from the Iowa Secretary of State (SoS). It arrived within about 24 hours of Laura Belin posting a story. Coincidence?

How does this technical infraction affect you? A strict adherence to Iowa Code 53.23 may result in some Iowa counties NOT reporting absentee ballot results until 10pm on general election nights. That would have a huge impact on candidates, voters, and the news media.

My official response to the technical infraction is below. As always, your comments are welcome. Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Commissioner of Elections

*********************************************

From: Miller, Joel
Sent: Tuesday, February 02, 2021 5:05 PM
To: michael.ross@sos.iowa.gov
Cc:
Subject: Acceptance of offer to help RE: Notice of Technical Infraction

Dear Deputy Secretary of State Ross;

On 2/1/2021, I received a Notice of Technical Infraction from you.  You allege a violation of Iowa law occurred on 11/4/2020, i.e., 89 days ago, but to my knowledge, you did not conduct any investigation into the facts.  I acknowledge a Notice of Technical Infraction does not require an investigation nor does it require facts before being issued nor does it require a response from the recipient.

I DO ACCEPT YOUR OFFER to “work with” me and my “staff on training methods and best practices to prevent future violations of Iowa law.”

I have scoured the training materials and best practices provided by the Office of Secretary of State, and I have yet to find any best practices, rules, or laws on how to reconcile the public’s interest in having absentee ballot results reported at 9:01pm or shortly thereafter on a general election night, versus the reality that some voters deliver their absentee ballots to auditors’ offices at 8:59pm on general election nights.

You write, “… we would recommend that you put a procedure in place to ensure the Linn County Auditor’s Office employee responsible for closing your no contact ballot delivery system at the time polls close also immediately delivers any ballots received at that time to your ASVP Board for review and counting.”

On March 2nd, my office will be administering two special elections.  I HEREBY REQUEST that you and any number of your staff come to Linn County and observe our election night procedures; specifically, those related to our no contact drop box, to confirm the facts as to how absentee ballots deposited into the drop box are processed when the polls close.

I think a strict adherence to Iowa Code 53.23 may result in some Iowa counties NOT reporting absentee ballot results until 10pm on general election nights.  I believe that our mutual constituencies including the news media, would be outraged to learn that general election results may not be available until 10pm or until such time as all absentee ballots delivered to Auditors Offices are counted.

In the meantime, please provide me with any training materials authored by your office.

Again, I look forward to receiving your training materials, your input on our procedures to be developed, and your presence at our office on Election Night on March 2nd, 2021.  I believe you will gain an understanding of how election administration works at the local level, and I will gain an understanding of how you think it should work.

Regards,

Joel D. Miller | Linn County Auditor | 319-892-5333

Exhibit #1: Legislature making elections more complicated

February 2, 2021

During today’s Linn County Board of Supervisors meeting, Linn County’s Deputy Commissioner of Elections and I updated the Board on proposed legislation, i.e., Senate File 115, which would:

1> Reduce the number of days to request an absentee ballot from the current 10 or 11 days before an election to 15 days.

2> Require ballots to be postmarked no less than 10 days before the election rather than the current 1 day before an election.

If SF115 is signed by the Governor in its current form and goes into effect, AND a massive effort is not commenced to inform every voter, then thousands of future absentee ballots lacking a postmark 10 or more days ahead of an election may be disqualified.

MY PROPOSAL: I don’t like absentee ballots coming in after the election ends at 8pm (local elections) or 9pm (primary & general elections). Instead of creating a bunch of random, pulled out of thin air deadlines, let’s just end the election at 8pm/9pm on election night.

And once you make the decision to put a hard deadline on when the election ends, then publicize the heck out of it to ensure every voter is aware of the deadline. And allow counties to install absentee ballot drop boxes throughout the county that are staffed on election night to ensure no absentee ballots are dropped after the deadline, and all ballots are returned to be counted in the results.

Iowa’s 2020 general election wasn’t broke and doesn’t need to be fixed. Don’t make voting complicated by adding a bunch of deadlines no one will remember. #MakeVotingSimple Posted by Joel D Miller – Linn County Commissioner of Elections

Update 10:01AM | 2/3/2021 | For the 2020 general election, @lc_elections received 52,497 mailed in absentee ballots. If the proposed SF115 law had been in effect and no one knew about it, 8976 ballots would have been disqualified due to late arriving mailed in ballots.

NEWS RELEASE: Marion and Alburnett school districts holding special elections on March 2nd

February 2, 2021

SPECIAL ELECTION

Alburnett Community School District and Marion Independent School District

Absentee voting begins Monday, February 8 at Lindale Mall Food Court

LINN COUNTY, IA – February 2, 2021 – Early, absentee voting begins Monday, February 8 in Linn County for the Alburnett Community School District and the Marion Independent School District Special Elections.

Voting Early: Curbside and In-Person

The Linn County Auditor’s Office will open at the Lindale Mall Food Court located at 4444 1st Ave NE in Cedar Rapids from February 8 through March 1, 2021. All auditor services, including voting, will be available at this temporary location Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from February 8 through March 1. Voters residing in the Alburnett Community School District or Marion Independent School District may vote early either in-person at the Lindale Mall Food Court or from their vehicle (curbside) at the temporary Lindale Mall location.

On Friday, February 19, extended hours will be available for one day from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Voting by Mail

Voters may request to have an absentee ballot mailed to them. Voters may print a request form from www.LinnCountyElections.org or they may call the Auditor’s Office at 319-892-5300 to request a form. Requests for mailed ballots must be received by Friday, February 19, 2021.

Absentee voters may return their ballot by mail. Ballots returned by mail must be postmarked on or before Monday, March 1 in order to be counted.

Absentee voters may also hand-deliver their ballot to the white dropbox located in front of the Linn County Public Service Center at 935 2nd St SW. The dropbox is available 24 hours a day and is under video surveillance. Ballots returned to the dropbox must be received by Tuesday, March 2 at 8 p.m. Ballots may also be returned to Auditor’s Office staff at Lindale Mall during the voting hours listed above.

Election Day Vote Centers

Election Day is Tuesday, March 2. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Alburnett Community School District voters may vote at either Alburnett United Methodist Church, 221 S. Main St., Alburnett or King of Kings Lutheran Church, 3275 N Center Point Rd, Cedar Rapids.

Marion Independent School District voters may vote at either Marion City Hall, 1225 6th Ave, Marion or Ascension Lutheran Church, 2210 Grand Ave, Marion.

Election Portal

Go to www.LinnCountyElections.org to access all election-related information for Linn County. The following can be viewed or downloaded:

· Absentee ballot request forms

· Election Day information

· Sample ballots

· Voter registration forms

Dates & Deadlines

Due Date Event / Deadline
2/08/2021 Absentee voting begins
2/19/2021 Last day to pre-register to vote for this election
2/19/2021 Last day to request an absentee ballot to be mailed
3/1/2021 Last day to vote in-person absentee (Lindale Mall Food Court)
3/2/2021 Election Day
3/8/2021 Canvass of votes

For questions regarding this election, call the Linn County Election Services Office at (319) 892-5300, ext. 1 or email elections

Posted by Joel D. Miller – Linn County Commissioner of Elections #MakingVotingSimple and Convenient

Iowa needs another Miller, Fitzgerald, or Sand

January 30, 2021

Earlier this week, Iowa’s current Secretary of State sent out a fundraising letter saying the “Radical Left” and the “Liberals have launched a well-funded, national effort to take control of election authorities in every state.”  Really?  Who is running for Secretary of State in Iowa aside from the incumbent?

I’m exploring a run for Iowa Secretary of State so I created the Miller for Iowa Secretary of State Exploratory Committee (M4SOSEC).

The purpose of creating this Committee is to recruit a current or former county auditor to run for Secretary of State in 2022 or to run for Secretary of State myself. Frankly, I don’t know if anyone other than a Republican can win another state-wide office in Iowa.  Is there another Tom Miller, Michael Fitzgerald, or Rob Sand out there?

If you would like to contribute to the Miller for Iowa Secretary of State Exploratory Committee, you can do so via Venmo or Zelle.

If this Exploratory Committee (EC) is superseded by my decision to run for Secretary of State, all unspent funds will be transferred to my new campaign committee.  If the EC is dissolved due to my decision not to run, all unspent funds will be transferred to the Iowa Democratic Party.

Do you have an opinion on who should or should not run for Secretary of State?  I encourage you to post your comments below or email Miller4IowaSoS@gmail.com

Paid for by Miller for Iowa Secretary of State Exploratory Committee (M4SOSEC).


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