Archive for February, 2021

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


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